SAN FRANCISCO – Matt Cain pitched the 20th perfect game in modern major league history, and the first for the San Francisco Giants, striking out a career-high 14 and getting help from two spectacular catches to beat the Houston Astros, 10-0, on Wednesday night.
Cain’s 125-pitch masterpiece featured a pair of great plays by his corner outfielders, and he got pinch-hitter Jason Castro on a grounder to third for his 27th and final out with a sellout crowd of 42,298 roaring.
At a ballpark where Barry Bonds made home-run history, Cain produced the signature moment for pitchers.
Left fielder Melky Cabrera chased down Chris Snyder’s one-out flyball in the sixth, scurrying back to make a leaping catch at the wall. Cain raised both arms and slapped his glove in delight when Cabrera made the play.
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Right fielder Gregor Blanco ran into deep right-center to make a diving catch on the warning track and rob Jordan Schafer for the first out of the seventh. The 27-year-old pitcher hugged Blanco in the dugout after the inning.
“Those were unbelievable catches,” Cain said. “I mean. that right there, that changes the whole thing.”
Phillip Humber of the Chicago White Sox tossed the majors’ last perfect game at Seattle on April 21. This is the second time in three years there have been two perfect games in the same season — before that, the only other time it happened was in 1880, before the modern era.
Cain (8-2) accomplished a feat even Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal couldn’t with this storied franchise.
It was the fifth no-hitter this season, and the third in June. Johan Santana tossed the New York Mets’ first no-hitter on June 1 and six Seattle pitchers shut down the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. Jered Weaver had one for the Los Angeles Angels on May 2. The Astros were no-hit for the fifth time, the first since Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs no-hit Houston on Sept. 14, 2008.
The 125 pitches were the most thrown in a perfect game.
The two-time All-Star signed with a $127.5 million, six-year contract before the season started, the biggest for a right-handed pitcher.
Cain threw 86 strikes, faced four full counts and still clocked 90 mph in the ninth. Cain followed Madison Bumgarner’s 12-strikeout 6-3 win Tuesday night.
It was the Giants’ first no-hitter since Jonathan Sanchez did it July 10, 2009, against the Padres.
The Astros were no-hit by the Giants for the second time. Marichal did it on June 15, 1963.
Catcher Buster Posey rushed the mound as Cain raised his arm.
“I can’t thank Buster enough,” Cain said. “I didn’t even question once what he was calling.”
Cain had come close twice this season. In his second start, in the team’s home opener April 13, he one-hit the Pirates in a 5-0 win, then allowed only two hits over nine innings in the Giants’ 11-inning, 1-0 win over Cliff Lee and the Phillies.
Cabrera, Brandon Belt and Blanco each hit two-run homers for the Giants.