When the Giants put runners on first and third with nobody out in the first inning, and then didn’t score, I was sure that was going to come back and haunt them.
In one way it did. It kept Matt Cain from recording his second consecutive shutout victory.
But thanks to Cain and a solid effort from the bullpen, it didn’t. The Giants kept the Phillies off the board too, allowing them to win in the 11th on an RBI single by Melky Cabrera.
However, the real story on this night was Cain vs. Cliff Lee.
Matt Cain’s numbers:
- 9 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4K, 91 pitches, 64 strikes.
Cliff Lee’s numbers
- 10 IP, 7 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 102 pitches, 81 strikes
“I haven’t seen two pitchers pitch that well. What a matchup,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Terrific game by two guys that hooked horns and neither one was giving in.”
It actually looked like the Giants would get to Lee early when Angel Pagan led off the game with a clean single to center. Cabrera followed with a bloop single to right, allowing Pagan to reach third.
But Pablo Sandoval followed with a fly to right too shallow to score Pagan, and then Lee got out of the jam by getting Buster Posey to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.
Now, you can’t blame Bochy for not playing for one run in the first inning. But you could in the fifth when it was evident that both pitchers were dealing.
In the fifth, Brett Pill led off with a double that one-hopped over the center-field fence. But with Ryan Theriot up next, Bochy did not have Theriot try to bunt Pill to third.
Instead, Theriot grounded to shortstop, forcing Pill to hold a second. Then Nate Schierholtz came up, and grounded to shortstop, forcing Pill to hold a second. And Brandon Crawford ended the inning by, you guessed it, grounding to short.
Those outs were the first three of 12 consecutive batters that Lee set down.
“I had a good changeup and I was throwing my curveballs for strikes,” Lee said. “I don’t usually do both in the same game. When things are going well, I try to work fast. I try to keep a good pace. Everybody likes that. I was told I was don after nine (innings), but I said I could easily pitch another inning. I tried it again after 10, but it didn’t happen.”
Good thing, too. Because after Lee got out of jams in the 9th and 10th by inducing double-play grounders, Antonio Bastardo came into pitch the 11th.
After Crawford opened the inning by striking out, Brandon Belt singled to center. Belt took second on third baseman Ty Wigginton’s error on an Angel Pagan grounder. Then Cabrera lined a sharp single to right to score Belt.
On the winning play, Belt broke at the crack of the bat, even though Cabrera’s line sailed just over the reach of leaping second baseman Freddy Galvis.
With that jump Belt, easily beat Hunter Pence’s throw home. Without that jump, he might have been out at the plate.
“I was hoping (it was a hit),” Belt said. “Thank goodness it was because if it wasn’t I was going to be in some big trouble. Off the bat, it looked like it was easily a base hit to me. And I wanted to end the game right there.”
Belt’s instincts gave the Giants a 4-2 homestead and evened their season record at 6-6.
The Giants get a day off Thursday before opening a seven-game homestead in New York against the Mets on Friday. Barry Zito faces Jonathan Niese in a 4:10 p.m. game Friday.