SAN FRANCISCO -- There are a host of reasons why San Francisco Giants starter Matt Cain went 11 games without earning a victory before Thursday night.
Lack of run support, one too many mistakes here and there, bad luck, coincidence, you name it, seemingly conspired against Cain throughout the longest drought of his career.
On Thursday night in a 6-4 win over the Miami Marlins, Cain overcame a shaky start, then settled down the final five-plus innings he pitched and notched his first victory since Aug. 17, 2013, when he also beat the Marlins.
Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo recorded the final four outs in relief of Cain. But, make no mistake, this win had as much to do with Cain as anyone or anything.
The Giants extended their lead over the idle Colorado Rockies in the National League West to four games with their fourth victory in five games.
Cain surrendered home runs in each of the first two innings and an RBI double off the right-field wall in the third as the Giants fell behind 3-0 and 4-1.
But Cain found his groove midway through the third inning and kept the Giants within reach until their bats awakened.
Derek Dietrich staked the Marlins to an early lead when he turned on Cain's sixth pitch of the game and launched it over the right field wall for a home run.
Garrett Jones tacked on two more runs for the Marlins in the second on a towering home run to right field.
Cain allowed at least two home runs in the same game for the third time in seven starts this season. He is tied for the league lead in games with multiple home runs allowed.
The Giants responded with a run in the third on a double by Tyler Colvin and back-to-back ground outs.
The Marlins answered right back with a run in the fourth. Cain got a strikeout and pop out, with runners on second and third, to limit the damage.
Michael Morse cut the Marlins lead to 4-3 on a two-run home run to right in the third. Morse timed a 99 mph fastball from Nathan Eovaldi and hit it well enough to reach the seats.
Cain settled down after falling behind 4-1 and retired 16 of the final 20 batters he faced -- he allowed only two hits during that stretch. The Giants rewarded Cain with a three-run rally in the fifth and handed him his first lead of the game.
Buster Posey drove home two runs with a double to deep right-center for a 5-4 edge. Morse plated Posey with a single to center.
The Giants caught a break during the rally. A chopper by Hunter Pence hit Pence's left foot, in fair territory, as he sprinted to first.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond pleaded his case with the umpires. He was informed that plays in front of the bases aren't reviewable.
So, instead of being out for touching a batted ball in fair territory, Pence got a second chance and made the most of his new life when he bounced a single through the right side.
Cain left to a standing ovation in the eighth after he allowed a two-out double. Affeldt struck out Jones looking to end the threat.
-- Right-hander Tim Hudson will not make his scheduled start Friday because of a left hip strain that he suffered against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Manager Bruce Bochy said that Hudson felt tightness in his hip during that game last Sunday but that he loosened up well enough to keep pitching. Bochy finally removed Hudson from the game after six innings, and 78 pitches, as a precautionary measure.
Yusmeiro Petit will start Friday against the Marlins, Bochy said. Earlier this season, Petit started two games in place of injured starter Matt Cain.
Hudson, 38, has started eight games in his first season with the Giants. He is 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA. He started at least 21 games in all but one of his first 15 seasons in the majors.
"We think he'll be fine to make the next start," Bochy said, "if we do give him a few extra days here."
Hudson jogged in the outfield during batting practice and appeared to be moving around fine.
Petit collected a win and a no-decision in his two starts this season. Overall, he is 2-1 with a 4.85 ERA.
Bochy said Hudson understands that there's no sense in pushing things and that they have to be thinking what's best for the long-term. "We want this thing cleared up, so we don't make it worse," Bochy said.
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