ATLANTA – Matt Cain dominated for eight innings. The San Francisco Giants were barely hanging on at the end.
Cain threw five-hit ball to snap his three-game losing streak, but the Giants narrowly avoided another loss to Atlanta in the final at-bat, preserving a 7-5 win over the Braves on Wednesday.
After Cain turned over a 7-1 lead, the Braves scored four runs and had the tying run at the plate when Brian McCann struck out swinging against Jeremy Affeldt.
“I think we won,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy quipped. “Just when you think you have a chance to cross your legs for a second, we’re facing the tying run up there.”
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The Giants broke it open with four runs in the fourth, one of them driven in by Cain (10-9) on a sacrifice fly. But he did his best work on the mound, striking out nine and giving up an unearned run in the first on Chipper Jones’ bases-loaded walk. Cain started working out of the stretch exclusively, even while retiring the last 18 hitters he faced.
“Mechanically, in the windup, I wasn’t quite going right,” he said. “So I switched to the stretch to try to keep stuff a little more in line and found that good rhythm and just tried to stay with it.”
San Francisco pounded All-Star pitcher Jair Jurrjens (12-5), who wasn’t sharp in his first start coming off the disabled list with a knee injury. He surrendered eight hits and five runs in six innings.
“I felt good,” Jurrjens said. “I just left some pitches up. I was a little rusty.”
The Braves won the first two games of the series, rallying for three runs in the ninth for a 5-4 victory Monday, then pulling out a 2-1 win in 11 innings Tuesday. They nearly did it again, closing to 7-5 on Martin Prado’s two-run double after shortstop Orlando Cabrera dropped Michael Bourn’s soft blooper behind the mound to extend the inning. Affeldt got McCann on a 3-2 pitch.
“You don’t want to go down without a fight,” Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman said. “At least we gave them a little scare at the end.”
The struggling Giants closed to 21/2 games behind Arizona in the National League West Division.