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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 7, 2010

MLB: Despite still not hitting their stride, Giants complete sweep over Marlins

By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News

MIAMI On a night more appropriate for umbrellas, the San Francisco Giants finally brought out the brooms.

For the fourth consecutive series, they had a chance to sweep. And unlike the previous three times, the task wasn't too slippery for them Thursday. Matt Cain pitched through an occasional shower and plowed through the Florida Marlins' lineup, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning as the Giants won 6-3.

Aaron Rowand made more contributions with the bat and glove while Nate Schierholtz remained the hottest No.8 batter in the league, hitting a home run and reaching base in all four plate appearances to help the Giants back yet another superlative effort from a starting pitcher.

"We're a good team, period," said left fielder Mark DeRosa, whose double opened the scoring in the second inning. "We've got great pitching, a great bullpen and tough outs in the lineup. You marvel at what our pitching does on a daily basis."

Yet there is a sense within the clubhouse that the first-place Giants haven't begun to play their best baseball. DeRosa certainly raises his hand in agreement.

He carried a .190 average into the game, but manager Bruce Bochy decided to let him try to work out of his doldrums. The manager said DeRosa's double to right-center field "must have lightened the load on him."

Yes and no, DeRosa said. The monkey might have shrunk from a 500-pound gorilla to the organ grinder's little buddy, but he's still clinging there.

"It's been the most frustrating six weeks of my career, to be honest with you," said DeRosa, who believed he found a swing flaw during a pregame session with hitting coach Hensley Meulens. "I've been on three teams the last six months, and I don't care what your track record is, you want to impress every team you go to. You want to get off to a good start, and I couldn't have gotten off to a worse one.

"I felt better at the plate. That said, I'm nowhere near where I can be or should be. But it's a start."

The Giants' winning ways are "what has kept me sane, basically," he said.

The rotation continues to pitch out of its mind. Cain had impeccable command of his hard fastball and mixed in more curves as he faced hitters a second and third time. He tried a goalie's kick save on Chris Coghlan's ground single up the middle, which broke up the no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth.

"I didn't get the pitch inside far enough," Cain said. "It makes you appreciate what (Jonathan) Sanchez did last year. It's not an easy thing to do."

Cain (2-1), who was coming off eight shutout innings against Colorado in his previous start, has a 2.79 ERA and has allowed 1.008 baserunners per inning.

"Really, it's just trying to throw strikes early, get these guys swinging and get 'em a little off balance," Cain said. "Then get rolling that way."

Rowand pointed out that DeRosa isn't the only Giant who isn't rolling along just yet. Freddy Sanchez will start a rehab assignment on Tuesday and should return soon. Edgar Renteria hasn't been healthy; he aggravated his groin injury in the second inning and is likely headed for the disabled list.

"Offensively, we're capable of more," said Rowand, who tripled, hit a two-run single and made another diving catch in center field. "Obviously, with this pitching staff, it's been good enough to win ballgames. But everybody is excited at what we're capable of doing."

Even the Giants' most talented hitter, Pablo Sandoval, has been quiet. He is 0-for-11 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

That would be huge news for a struggling team. Instead, it's a speck of dust, and the Giants have the brooms to deal with it.