SAN FRANCISCO -- With an offense that entered the game rolling, Matt Cain on the mound and an opposing pitcher who exited after just three innings due to injury, perhaps Giants fans were expecting a big day for the bats on Saturday at AT&T Park. Turns out it was completely the opposite.
Buoyed by six scoreless innings from their relief corps, the Rockies handed the Giants a 1-0 loss to even the series heading into Sunday's rubber match.
San Francisco entered play Saturday as the National League's second-highest scoring club behind Colorado, but the Giants couldn't find the answers against the full complement of pitchers thrown their way.
Despite his team's big offensive potential and the Rockies needing six pitchers to get through the contest, center fielder Angel Pagan said he wasn't surprised to see his team get shut out.
"No, why? It's part of baseball," Pagan said after going 0-for-4 to snap his 10-game hitting streak. "It's going to happen. It's just a matter of getting up and fight tomorrow. They pitched really well today. Even the starter, he got hurt, but he was throwing a very good game. Then the bullpen just got his back. You've got to give them credit."
Cain is no stranger to a lack of run support. Throughout his career, he has been able to achieve ace status in San Francisco despite repeated dry spells from the offense on days he's pitching.
Saturday was no different. Even though he tossed seven innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out eight, he left the game in a 1-0 hole and was charged with the loss.
Ultimately, Cain and the Giants were done in by a nice sequence of small ball from the Rockies in the third inning. After Charlie Blackmon reached base on a walk and Brandon Barnes singled him to second, both runners moved up 90 feet on a double steal. That set the stage for Troy Tulowitzki's sacrifice fly to right field, driving home Blackmon for the game's only run.
"I was throwing a lot of strikes and moving the ball around a good bit," Cain said. "Seems like that's how it goes. You make a leadoff walk and I did a bad job of paying attention to him on second. That's what cost us."
It would be easy to point to the lineup, which produced a total of three hits, as the scapegoat for Saturday's loss, but Cain said the blame belonged on his shoulders.
"Yeah, for sure," Cain said. "We could still be playing right now."
Colorado lefty Brett Anderson looked sharp to begin the contest, throwing 30 of his 41 pitches for strikes while getting through three scoreless frames. But the oft-injured southpaw hurt his throwing hand on a fourth-inning groundout at the plate after hitting the ball off the end of the bat. He went out to the mound to warm up for the bottom of the fourth but was removed with a bruised left index finger, and he will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
"So it was my fault?" Cain said of Anderson's injury. "No, that definitely stinks. You don't want to see a guy go down from something like that."
From that point on, the Colorado combination of Tommy Kahnle, Matt Belisle, Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers and closer LaTroy Hawkins limited the Giants to just two hits over the final six innings of the game.
"I don't know if I've ever seen it -- a starter come out after three and you win, 1-0," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It speaks volumes about our bullpen."
But the Giants had their chances, none better than the bases-loaded situation they put together in the eighth inning. Alas, Pablo Sandoval struck out against Brothers, continuing his early-season struggles at the plate. Even though he hit a double in the fourth, Sandoval went 1-for-4 on the afternoon and is now batting .152/.264/.261 with a homer and four RBIs through 12 contests.
Sandoval is hardly the only member of the Giants trying to find his swing, as outfielder Hunter Pence is also batting just .167 through the first dozen games of the year. Meanwhile, Michael Morse had his nine-game hitting streak snapped on the same day Pagan's hot streak came to an end.
"We have two or three guys that aren't swinging the bat like they can," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "… They're good hitters. They'll come around and the numbers will be up there at the end of the day. It'd be nice to get them going now, though."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.