DENVER -- Matt Cain has demonstrated that he can overcome unwanted time off. Jhoulys Chacin will be out to prove that he can do the same.
That's the background shared by Wednesday night's respective starting pitchers as Cain's Giants and Chacin's Rockies meet in Game 2 of a three-game series between the top National League West teams.
Cain has looked strong since missing two starts with a cut on his right index finger. In his first start after the injury, Cain threw five shutout innings against the Dodgers before faltering in the sixth inning and allowing two runs. Los Angeles proceeded to win, 6-2.
But there was no stopping Cain in his next outing against Miami. He put the Giants in deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 during the first three innings, yet overcame his ineffectiveness to work 7 2/3 innings. San Francisco prevailed, 6-4, giving Cain his 94th career victory.
"I felt like I wasn't contributing," he said. "So, that was nice for these guys to come back and score some runs, then hold them there."
Cain is 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts this year against Colorado. But he's 17-8 with a 3.35 ERA in 33 career starts against the Rockies. That win total is his highest against any club.
Meanwhile, Chacin will make his fourth start of the season after missing a little more than a month with a right shoulder strain.
The first was a rough, back-in-the-swing outing against the Mets -- four runs and eight hits in five innings on May 4. The two starts since have revealed the same pattern. He gave up two runs (one in the first inning, one in the second) and four hits in six innings of a no-decision at Cincinnati on May 9, and three runs (all in the second inning) and seven hits in six innings in a loss at Kansas City.
Chacin realizes he cannot be tripped at the start of innings early in the games. Part of the issue has been going from making sure his shoulder is OK to simply competing. The other, possibly bigger, part is figuring out how much pregame warmup he needs to have confidence in the health of his arm.
"After a couple of innings, I felt all my pitches and I threw better and felt better," Chacin said. "I've been working to get my arm stronger. Now I need to figure out how to start off strong and stay at that same level.
"I just have to give it more time to get loose, maybe more in the bullpen."
Rockies: Too much NL West, too much Giants
Rockies manager Walt Weiss would rather not see so much of the Giants, and not just because of their formidable pitching. In fact, he doesn't like seeing teams in the NL West 18-19 times a year.
"It's too much, almost half our schedule in the division," Weiss said. "When you look at it, I think we play 76 games out of 162. I'm sure I won't score a lot of points with the powers that be, but that's one man's opinion.
"There are probably some positives to it. You're going to create some rivalries, whether you want to or not, when you play against each other that much. I'm probably a little old-school here because most of my career was with the balanced schedule. You play in your division in September, when the pennant races are heating up."
Weiss said he doesn't have to spend a lot of time thinking about strategy.
"We play each other so much, probably too much in my opinion, that we know each other very well, the matchups are pretty much in place," Weiss said. "I can, and I'm sure 'Boch' [Giants manager Bruce Bochy] feels like he can match up in his sleep against us. I'm pretty familiar with the matchups against the Giants."
Giants: Sandoval's streak finally halted
Maybe Tuesday's game should have been stopped for a ceremony when Colorado starter Franklin Morales coaxed Pablo Sandoval's groundout to third base in the first inning.
Sandoval had hit safely in his previous seven first-inning at-bats. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the longest such streak by a Giant since Barry Bonds recorded hits in seven consecutive first-inning at-bats in 2006, his next-to-last season in the Majors.
Since Sandoval's first-inning proficiency helped sustain his overall success, it seemed somehow fitting that his nine-game hitting streak ended on a night when his first-inning magic ran out. Though he went 0-for-4, he hit .389 (14-for-36) during his streak.
• All four of San Francisco's runs Tuesday came with two outs. Entering the game, the Giants' 88 two-out runs led the Major Leagues.
• Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner has struck out at least five batters in each of his last nine games, which may not sound like much. But it's tied for the longest such streak in the Majors this year with Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Masahiro Tanaka.
• Franklin Morales of the Rockies recorded his third quality start, matching a personal best set in 2012.
• Colorado's Wilin Rosario has three three-RBI games this month, matching the most among Major League catchers.