MLB: Cain can't win in San Diego as Eckstein’s homer beats Giants
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SAN DIEGO — The day might come when the Double-A Flying Squirrels swoop in with the heavy lumber and a wizened Matt Cain coasts with a double-digit lead.
But that day has not arrived yet. To reach October for the first time in seven years, the San Francisco Giants will have to pull out plenty of tight games.
That's the only kind they seem to play at cavernous Petco Park, and the Giants weren't the team walking off in celebration in the 10th inning Monday night.
Diminutive David Eckstein lined a home run off the brick building down the left-field line, slaying Jeremy Affeldt and sending the San Diego Padres to a 3-2 victory.
The Giants have their first losing streak of the season, and stop us if you've heard this one, but they failed to reward Matt Cain's solid work.
Cain said he didn't take the mound with any negative thoughts, even though he can't seem to win here. He was 1-4 despite a 2.87 ERA in eight starts.
"I like pitching here. I'm confident," said Cain, who allowed a pair of sacrifice flies in his six innings and has yet to receive a decision this season. "It's a great ballpark to pitch in. "We're coming in here to win. I just put our guys behind a little bit."
The Giants forced extra innings when Juan Uribe hit a solo shot off closer Heath Bell in the ninth. But they finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position a day after going 0-for-7 in another loss that turned on a late home run at Dodger Stadium.
"It's two games," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We were putting runs on the board until (Sunday). We did what we wanted and created the opportunities."
In addition to their lack of a big hit, the Giants are having trouble setting the table in the absence of Aaron Rowand. Eugenio Velez, who took over leadoff duties with Rowand on the disabled list, was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.
The Giants fell to 2-3 against left-handed starters, and Bochy's right-handed lineups have caused some consternation among the faithful.
Bochy had Velez lead off against left-hander Clayton Richard even though the switch hitter owns just a .213 career average from the right side. The manager continued to start Andres Torres in the outfield against left-handers, too, even though he is 2-for-18 on the season and neither of his hits has left the infield.
Torres owned the Giants' most regrettable at-bat, grounding to third base for a step-and-throw double play with the bases loaded to end the fourth inning.
Affeldt (2-2) preserved the tie in the ninth, but his third pitch of the 10th to Eckstein dented the Western Metal Supply Co. building. It was just the second homer he's allowed to a right-handed hitter in 156 confrontations against them as a Giant.
The left-hander said he had trouble throwing his curveball for strikes, and his 1-1 fastball wasn't in far enough.
"I had that issue early last season, and obviously, I'm having it again," Affeldt said of his curveball. "It's fixable."
Before the game, the Giants' banged-up outfield received good news. Rowand rejoined the club instead of undergoing surgery to affix plates to his facial fractures. Rowand consulted with a team of doctors in San Francisco on Monday, and it was determined his three small orbital bone fractures will heal on their own.
Rowand will begin baseball work Friday and expects to be ready when eligible to be activated May 2.
Mark DeRosa was held out of the lineup again after testing his tight hamstring with some outfield drills. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh and said he expects to start Tuesday or Wednesday.