Cain, Giants able
SAN DIEGO — Coming off a stretch at AT&T Park that was disappointing on and off the field, the Giants found a familiar cure Friday night: playing on the road.
The lineup that leads the National League in road scoring broke out again, beating the host San Diego Padres, 10-1, at Petco Park behind an eight-run third inning. The Giants improved to 30-28 on the road and have won 10 of their last 14 games away from AT&T Park, outscoring opponents 103-45.
The Giants hit for the cycle in their first 10 at-bats while taking a 3-0 lead, and they were just getting started. Seven straight hitters safely reached base at one point in the third inning, five of them on base hits. Brandon Crawford extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games and scored twice in the inning, and Angel Pagan had two run-scoring hits. Matt Cain even joined the party, lining an RBI single in his second at-bat of the inning. The eight runs marked a season high for the Giants in one inning.
The offensive outburst came on a night when Cain briefly flirted with history. He retired the first 10 Padres before plunking Logan Forsythe in the fourth. He still had a no-hitter going with one out in the fifth, but Yonder Alonso drove a double to right. The shutout was soon lost, as well, on a single from Everth Cabrera that scored Alonso.
Coming off two consecutive rough outings on the road, Cain worked efficiently through eight innings, giving up just the one run on four hits. He struck out six without issuing a walk.
Gregor Blanco already has contributed far more production than the Giants could have expected when they signed him in the offseason. Now they're hoping there's a little more lightning left in the bottle.
Blanco started in left field Friday night and hit seventh for the Giants, who took to the road on the heels of Melky Cabrera's 50-game suspension for use of a banned substance. Blanco isn't expected to put up the All-Star numbers Cabrera did, but he's hopeful he can find the form that made him an everyday starter for much of the first half.
"I just need to get back to what I was doing," Blanco said. "I need to be aggressive and trust myself. This is a time that the team needs me, and I'm really excited about it. I wanted an opportunity like this again."
That's not to say Blanco is happy that his second chance at an everyday role came when Cabrera, a close friend, was suspended. In a clubhouse full of mixed emotions, Blanco stood firmly behind Cabrera, saying he hoped to have him back if the Giants make the playoffs.
"To end it like this is sad, but we have to pull it off for him," Blanco said. "This is a team, and he's going to be good for us if he comes back. That (suspension) was a big surprise, but I said to myself, 'Do this for Melky, because he deserves it.' Now it's my time to prove myself and prove to him that we're going to (keep winning)."
Blanco said he reached out to Cabrera after the suspension was handed down but has not heard back. "I think he's still a little embarrassed," he said. "But it'll be fine."
The Giants hope they'll be able to say the same after losing their second most productive hitter. In that respect, Thursday's off day couldn't have come at a better time. Manager Bruce Bochy said it was an opportunity to rest up after a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, and a good chance for players to put Wednesday's stunning events behind them.
"Just to get away from everything was good for them," Bochy said.