MLB: Cain, Giants finally get help from Rowand, Molina
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Cain is one of the hottest pitchers in the major leagues, but the San Francisco Giants also needed a few veterans to snap out of deep freezes Wednesday night to prevent getting swept by the Colorado Rockies.
Cain romped for eight more outstanding innings, Aaron Rowand hit a two-run double to give him the lead in the fifth, and Bengie Molina contributed a run-scoring single in the sixth as the Giants won 4-1 at AT&T Park — their sixth win to finish a nine-game homestand.
It marked just the second time this season that Rowand and Molina, two of the club's core players, knocked in runs in the same game.
Cain gave up a home run to Troy Tulowitzki but yielded just three other hits. Tulowitzki's drive in the fourth is the only earned run off Cain in his past three starts; he was coming off a one-hit shutout over the Arizona Diamondbacks and had a 1.81 ERA in May.
Cain (4-4) also struck out five to pass Jack Sanford for ninth place on the San Francisco-era strikeouts list with 785.
Broadcasters Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow are fond of describing this year's team as torturous, and the first four innings were downright medieval. The Giants managed just two singles against left-hander Jeff Francis and followed those with double-play grounders to short.
Rowand bounced into the first one, and Sandoval swung at the first pitch while hitting his 13th double-play grounder of the season, most in the National League.
Manager Bruce Bochy couldn't win. He couldn't be blamed for starting the runner in the fifth after Juan Uribe led off with a single. Molina swung through a third strike, and Uribe was thrown out at second base for a double play of a different variety.
But the Giants' luck turned quicker than Bochy could have hoped. Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey kept the inning alive with singles, and Rowand crushed a chest-high fastball over the head of Carlos Gonzalez in center field.
The two-run double erased a 1-0 deficit, provided relief to Rowand and might have validated Bochy, who heard plenty of criticism for staying with his epically struggling center fielder.
Rowand entered with a .138 average in his previous 20 games. He hadn't knocked in multiple runs in a game since May 9, when his home run at New York powered the Giants to a comeback victory over the Mets.
Molina, who hit .184 in May, is the other locus for criticism these days. His hitless streak reached 17 at-bats after two dispiriting trips to begin the game. In addition to his strikeout double play with Uribe, Molina was retired in the second inning when third baseman Ian Stewart nearly lost his glove while snagging a scorched line drive.
But Molina's luck changed as the Giants tacked on two more runs in the sixth. Freddy Sanchez started the rally with a one-out single, and Sandoval decided to take a pitch before hitting a double to the wall in left-center.
Sanchez scored, and Molina singled in Sandoval to snap an 0-for-17 streak. It also marked only the second RBI for Molina since May 5.
Posey rolled out another multiple-hit game, collecting singles in the third and fifth. He also showed he's comfortable making an aggressive decision while playing out of position at first base. Posey helped Cain out of the sixth inning, stepping on the bag after fielding Brad Hawpe's roller and throwing accurately to second base where Tulowitzki was tagged out.
Cain threw 114 pitches and yielded the ninth to Brian Wilson, who didn't start anyone's heart beating. Wilson needed just eight pitches, six strikes, to record his 13th save.