For a game played in the July heat, this sure had a cool September feel.
Matt Cain detected it on the mound. The noisier the crowd became, the nastier he pitched.
Cain became the major leagues’ second 12-game winner, scattering three hits over seven innings and the San Francisco Giants beat Colorado 3-1 on Friday night to pull even with the Rockies in the NL wild-card race.
Too early to talk postseason?
“No. This is where we have to concentrate – take these games,” Cain said of the three-game series. “We let something slip now and that could come back to bite us down the road.”
Cain pitched with a playoff zest, giving up one run and striking out five as he moved to 37-6 all-time when the Giants score three or more runs for him.
Although he struggled with his command at times, issuing four walks, he didn’t allow his first hit until the fifth when Ian Stewart lined a two-out hopper through the right side of the infield.
And yes, he had visions of a no-hitter. Even more so when third baseman Pablo Sandoval robbed the speedy Dexter Fowler of a hit with a nifty play in the fourth.
“I think as a pitcher, most know,” Cain admitted. “You definitely try to keep it going.”
Cain (12-2) joined Colorado’s Jason Marquis as the only 12-game winners this season. He lowered his ERA to 2.27, the third-best mark in the NL.
It may be early, but there’s talk about Cain as a serious Cy Young candidate.
Not that Giants manager Bruce Bochy wants to address that subject – not yet at least.
“We’ve got a lot of baseball left,” Bochy said. “But I can’t say enough about what he’s done this year. He’s really emerged as a terrific pitcher. He’s not trying to power his way through guys, has great poise out there. We’ll see. We’ll talk about that in September.”
Cain definitely earned the Rockies‘ respect.
“He was real good,” Troy Tulowitzki said. “He’s one of the better guys in the league and he throws hard.”
It was supposed to be a matchup of two of the elite pitchers in the NL. But Marquis was bumped due to a bothersome blister on his right middle finger.
Jason Hammel (5-5) started in his place, giving up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
“I had a lot of fun tonight. Even though we lost, it was a great game,” Hammel said.
For Fred Lewis, Coors Field has become his home away from AT&T Park. He increased his career batting average to .365 with a 3-for-3 night, finishing a homer shy of the cycle.
The left-handed hitting Lewis singled in the first, doubled in the fourth and tripled in the sixth. In his final at-bat in the eighth, he was walked on five pitches by southpaw Franklin Morales.
“His playing time picked up and he’s taking advantage of it,” Bochy said. “He had a good game out there.”
The Giants entered the game as the only team without a homer following the All-Star break. Nate Schierholtz ended that dubious distinction in the fourth, connecting on a 93-mph fastball from Hammel.
It was his fourth of the season.
Rafael Betancourt made his Rockies debut in the eighth inning, setting the Giants down in order. Betancourt was acquired Thursday from Cleveland and added to the roster before the game.
NOTES: Giants OF Aaron Rowand (bruised right forearm) and INF Edgar Renteria (right elbow) were given another day off to rest. They’re expected to be available Saturday night. … LHP Randy Johnson (strained shoulder) is going to have an MRI on Monday to see how much progress he’s made. “We’re still being optimistic we’ll get good news Monday and he’ll start his rehab,” Bochy said before the game. … Marquis is scheduled to start Tuesday night in New York. … Jeremy Affeldt pitched a perfect eighth for his 27th straight scoreless inning. … Rockies 3B Garrett Atkins had an RBI double in the sixth.