There was a time when Matt Cain was one of the most effective pitchers in baseball. Six stints on the disabled list later and he's simply trying to resurrect his career.
His past couple starts have him on the right track, and he'll look to keep rolling as the San Francisco Giants host the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.
Cain (0-5, 5.87 ERA) made only 28 starts over the previous two seasons while battling a series of injuries, and his beginning to 2016 didn't go so well either as he posted a 7.89 ERA over his first six outings.
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The oft-injured right-hander has been much better over his last two, though, allowing two runs in eight innings of a loss to Toronto on May 10 before giving up one run in seven innings in the Giants' 2-1 win over Arizona on Sunday.
“I think the confidence has been there,” Cain said. “I think it's just a matter of staying with that confidence while the games are going on and not getting too worried about when you get into situations.
“It's nice to know that stuff I've been working on in the bullpen is starting to translate into the game.”
Cain struggled in each of his starts against the Cubs last season, losing both while allowing 11 runs and 14 hits in nine innings. He'll seek his first win of the season as he opposes Jon Lester, who was a hard-luck loser in his last outing.
Lester (4-2, 1.88) gave up one run and a season-low two hits while striking out nine in 6 2/3 innings of a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. It was the sixth time in his eight starts that he's allowed one run or none.
The left-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh before giving up the go-ahead RBI double.
''I tried to go in and didn't locate,'' Lester said. ''That's a tough one, but you've got to look at the other 100-and-whatever pitches I threw that were pretty good. I feel like I found my curveball a little bit, and that will definitely help me as we keep going.''
Lester has won each of his three starts against the Giants with a 1.11 ERA, including a 7-3 win Aug. 7 in his only outing against them with the Cubs.
San Francisco (25-19) had won eight in a row and was the hottest team in baseball before running into Jake Arrieta in Friday's series opener. He held the Giants to one run and four hits through seven innings while dealing them an 8-1 defeat.
Buster Posey went 0 for 4, snapping his four-game hitting streak. He's 4 for 11 against Lester in his career.
The Cubs (29-11) snapped out of a 3-5 slump by matching the amount of runs they scored over their previous four. Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Ben Zobrist – who extended his hitting streak to seven games – homered, but the status of Jason Heyward is uncertain.
Heyward left in the bottom of the first with an apparent abdominal injury after making a diving catch and crashing into the wall head-first.