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ARI@SF: Cain fans seven over 7 2/3 innings

SAN FRANCISCO -- As impressive as Matt Cain was on the mound in Thursday's 3-2 Giants victory, efficiently mowing down the D-backs all afternoon, his signature moment may have come at the plate.

A throw from Arizona right-hander Daniel Hudson bounced off Cain's pitching hand and up toward his face as he was looking to drop a sacrifice bunt. Cain fell awkwardly to the ground, and manager Bruce Bochy and head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner came out to look at his injured hand. Cain admitted after the game that his hand was the only thing that prevented the ball from hitting him in the face.

But Cain persisted at the plate just as he did on the mound, successfully executing the bunt and advancing catcher Eli Whiteside to third base, setting up two runs that would give the Giants a three-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Cain tipped his hat to the raucous, standing crowd as he left the field after 7 2/3 innings, having surrendered two runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out seven.

"He's so tough. He could have come out of that game, but he wanted to stay in," Bochy said. "He's just grown so much as a player, a pitcher. ... He just kept going out there and throwing out zeros. We're lucky to have him."

The normally reliable Giants bullpen made things interesting in the eighth inning, allowing the D-backs to cut the deficit to one on two inherited runners. But San Francisco (21-16) held on to win and finished the series sweep of Arizona (15-21) in front of the team's 15th straight sellout crowd to start the season at AT&T Park, wrapping up a perfect 6-0 homestand that included five one-run victories.

"When you've done it a few times, the confidence grows to do it again," Bochy said. "It's nice to get the momentum back and mojo back as we hit the road."

The Giants struck first in the bottom of the second, when Cody Ross led off with a double to deep left field. Right fielder Nate Schierholtz then started off a big day at the plate, knocking a ground-ball single to center field and scoring Ross to put the Giants up, 1-0.

With five everyday outfielders competing for three starting spots, it might be easy to get lost in the shuffle. But Schierholtz made sure he stood out Thursday.

The next inning, he disrupted one of the D-backs' best scoring opportunities of the day before it could truly get started. Arizona center fielder Gerardo Parra ripped a two-out pitch to the right-field wall, but Schierholtz ran it down and unleashed a rocket to shortstop Miguel Tejada, who tagged Parra at second to end the inning -- a play Bochy described as "as good as any I've seen."

Admittedly playing pressure-free with his first hit out of the way, Schierholtz added another hit in the bottom of the sixth by hustling to first on an infield single, beating the throw from D-backs third baseman Ryan Roberts. He then stole second and displayed some heads-up baserunning, taking third when Miguel Montero's throw flew wide of second base. Schierholtz picked up his third hit of the game -- his first three-hit game since April 9 -- on a leadoff double to center field in the eighth.

"Anytime I can get an opportunity to play and help contribute to a win, that's my goal every day whether it's coming off the bench or starting," Schierholtz said. "All I can do is work hard and have a positive attitude regardless of whether I'm starting or pinch-hitting in the ninth or coming in for defense."

The teams traded zeros for much of the game until Whiteside slammed a double into center field in the seventh, scoring on the at-bat after Cain's sacrifice bunt when Andres Torres smacked an RBI double down the right-field line. Torres moved to third on a groundout by Freddy Sanchez and came home when Aubrey Huff dropped a single into right field, putting the Giants ahead, 3-0.

Cain picked up two quick outs in the eighth, but the top of the D-backs' order finally got to the right-hander. Cain gave up consecutive singles to Parra and Xavier Nady. Jeremy Affeldt came on in relief of Cain, allowing a run-scoring single to Stephen Drew, and Ramon Ramirez surrendered an RBI single to Justin Upton one at-bat later. Ramirez finally ended the threat, forcing Russell Branyan to ground out to second base.

"Those guys are world champions, and they showed it in this series," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I feel like we got outplayed this series."

Javier Lopez came in to close out the game in the ninth, picking up his fourth career save -- his first since Sept. 12, 2006 -- and crossing his arms after the final out, paying homage to Brian Wilson's usual postgame celebration.

"Since we've gotten him, what a job he's done. We had the right guy out there with Wilson down today," said Bochy, who wanted to rest Wilson after the closer had pitched in five straight games. "He's got such a great focus out there, and he's got such a positive attitude, and he didn't put pressure on himself because it's the ninth inning. That's not easy to do, but he did a great job of keeping his poise out there." Comments