Rockies can't solve Cain in loss to Giants

Rockies can't solve Cain in loss to Giants

Rockies can't solve Cain in loss to Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Rockies spent the previous night witnessing the Giants celebrate the wonder of pitcher Matt Cain, as they honored him for his June 13 perfect game. Speech after speech by Giants broadcasters and manager Bruce Bochy, as well as his high school coach, seemed to send the message that the Rockies wouldn't stand a chance on Saturday afternoon.

Well, Cain, after receiving various gifts in his ceremony, did grant the Rockies with a chance in the sixth inning. But not much came of it, and the Giants -- who benefitted from a two-run homer by National League Most Valuable Player candidate Buster Posey -- ended up winning, 9-3, at AT&T Park.

The Giants (62-52) entered the day tied with the Dodgers atop the National League West. The last-place Rockies (41-70) still have a chance to win the series on Sunday afternoon. Colorado took two out of three from the Dodgers earlier in the week and shut out the Giants on Friday, and if it wins on Sunday could secure its first winning road trip of the season.

Trailing 5-0, the Rockies loaded the bases with no outs, with a 3-1 count to Josh Rutledge, before Cain (11-5) returned to dominating the game -- with a little luck. Cain would give up two runs -- including one on DJ LeMahieu's first Major League home run to lead off the seventh -- and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. Cain struck out six while allowing one walk. He outpitched fellow Memphis, Tenn.-area native Drew Pomeranz (1-7), who yielded four runs and six hits in four innings.

Pomeranz, who had the same private pitching coach as Cain, never crossed paths with the Giants' ace because he is younger.

"Obviously, I want to throw a good game every time out. But I made some bad pitches, and they put good swings on my bad pitches," Pomeranz said.

Cain played at Houston High School in Germantown, Tenn., with Pomeranz's older brother, Stu, who spent some time with the Orioles this year. Pomeranz would go to nearby rival Collierville High School, then to Ole Miss. Cain predicted the two will cross paths more often.

"I wouldn't doubt it, if we have a lot more of these battles," Cain said. "It's pretty cool that you have an opportunity to play against someone you knew growing up and all through high school like that, a good friend of yours. That doesn't happen very often."

Rutledge, a rookie, pulled Cain's pitch right at third baseman Marco Scutaro, who stepped on third for one out even though a run scored. Carlos Gonzalez followed by blistering Cain's delivery, only to see it go straight to first baseman Brett Pill. Cain then caught Ramon Hernandez looking at a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner.

"There were a lot of hard-hit [balls] with guys on that just went right to their guys, and we couldn't get anything across on them," Rutledge said. "It was a really good game on [Cain's] part, but things were falling for him."

Pomeranz demonstrated that he has a ways to go before matching Cain's problem-solving abilities. However, Pomeranz, who yielded four runs and six hits in four innings, is much earlier in his career than Cain.

In fact, at 111 1/3 combined innings in the Minors and Majors this season, the Rockies will soon look to limit his innings. He threw 119 1/3 combined frames between the Minors and Majors last year, and the Rockies entered the season saying they would not let him increase that total dramatically. The club hasn't announced a limit, but 150 innings would appear to be a reasonable increase.

Three of the first four hitters in the second reached against Pomeranz, who gave up runs on Joaquin Arias' sacrifice fly and Cain's RBI single on a 1-2 pitch.

Melky Cabrera singled with one out in the third, and Posey clubbed his 19th homer of the season on a changeup at the letters.

"That's a hard ball to hit out -- it's pretty high," Pomeranz said. "Other than that, I struggled to get the ball down today."

Pomeranz noted that his offspeed pitches have been working more consistently than not. However, the difference between struggling through the early part of his Major League career and thriving -- the way the Rockies believe will happen -- is fastball command. The Rockies obtained him from the Indians last year for pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, and are suffering along with him until he matures.

"We experience [both] up and down," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Today, it was down. We've seen him be brilliant -- and somewhere between those two areas is consistency. That's what we're searching for, what we're trying for.

"It boils down to gaining an understanding of your delivery and your capability to repeat it. The other thing is, when it does get out of sync, can you fix it at midstream? That's a tall task for young pitchers."

Posey has hit .443 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs since the All-Star break for a Giants club that has been offensively challenged when not playing the struggling Rockies.

The Giants added four runs in two innings against reliever Josh Roenicke and another in the eighth, after Rex Brothers uncorked a wild pitch.

While the Rockies did tack on a run in the ninth on Chris Nelson's RBI single, it only served to make the final tally closer.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.