video thumbnail

Must C Clutch: Melky ends duel with walk-off single

SAN FRANCISCO -- This wasn't a mere game, meant to be stuffed in a scorebook and soon forgotten. This was a masterpiece, suitable for framing and exhibiting to all who cherish the art of pitching.

This was Matt Cain against Cliff Lee, right-hander against left-hander, each allowing two runners to reach scoring position and matching each other virtually out for out through nine innings Wednesday. Less than two hours had elapsed by that time.

"This is one I'll remember," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who has seen thousands of ballgames. "It doesn't get any better than what we saw tonight."

It was easy for Bochy to rhapsodize, since the Giants ultimately did more than just contribute to the aesthetics. They prevailed, 1-0, on Melky Cabrera's 11th-inning RBI single.

Brandon Belt, who entered the game in the top of the 11th as part of a double-switch, delivered a one-out single to center off Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo (0-1). Angel Pagan grounded sharply to third baseman Ty Wigginton, who lost his grip on the ball for an error. Cabrera lashed a 1-0 pitch into right-center field on a bounce. Hunter Pence's throw home was too late to apprehend the sliding Belt.

"It was a fastball down the middle," Cabrera said through an interpreter of the pitch he hit for the game-winner. "And every time I see a fastball, I just try to make contact and hit it up the middle."

Cabrera leads San Francisco with six multiple-hit games this season, but he was mired in an 0-for-12 slump until Tuesday. So he felt more grateful than triumphant.

"I just feel very happy that the manager gives me an opportunity to play every single day and I'm happy that I was able to contribute," Cabrera said.

The decision sealed the Giants' third consecutive series victory following the sweep Arizona administered them during the season-opening weekend. San Francisco also completed a 4-2 homestand.

"This is the type of game that hopefully will give them some confidence," Bochy said.

The sight of Cain on the mound should bolster each Giant's spirits. He worked nine innings, allowing two hits and walking one. Cain virtually duplicated his effort from last Friday, when Pittsburgh pitcher James McDonald's single denied him a perfect game.

"I don't know if I've ever seen back-to-back games thrown so well," Bochy said.

Cain believed that he had superior stuff against the Phillies.

"I feel like I was throwing the ball to both sides of the plate a lot better," he said.

Cain needed all the effectiveness he could muster against Lee, the 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner who defeated the Giants in each of his four previous regular-season starts against them. Lee worked 10 innings, surrendering seven hits and walking none.

So dominant was Lee that he threatened to control the game's tempo.

"I know Cliff always works fast," Cain said. "So I was trying to make sure to slow down a little bit, take a little extra time between innings, to make sure I stayed in a good rhythm."

The result was a magnificent monotony. Cain retired the final 13 hitters he faced. Lee retired 12 consecutive Giants from the fifth through eighth innings. As the zeros stretched across the scoreboard, it became easier to imagine what the incomparable 16-inning standoff between San Francisco's Juan Marichal and Milwaukee's Warren Spahn on July 2, 1963, must have been like. Or how one of the rare Marichal-versus-Sandy Koufax matchups might have looked as the Giants and Dodgers fought through the 1960s.

"I think it's fair to compare these two [Cain and Lee] to those two," Bochy said, referring to Marichal and Koufax.

Others ultimately intruded in the drama. After Cain departed, Santiago Casilla survived a one-out single to pitch a scoreless 10th. Carlos Ruiz doubled off Sergio Romo to christen Philadelphia's 11th and advanced to third on Freddy Galvis' sacrifice bunt. But Javier Lopez won a lefty-on-lefty matchup by fanning pinch-hitter Jim Thome before Clay Hensley coaxed pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr.'s groundout to end the threat.

Lee's reaction was as placid as the Phillies' offense.

"You've got to give credit to Cain, who threw a heck of a game," he said. "The bullpen came in behind him and kept us from scoring. It was definitely a pitchers' duel. A classic pitchers' duel." Comments