Matt Cain homer helps Giants muscle past Reds

The Giants have given up 23 home runs in just 10 second-half games. The long ball, it seems, has been the hook that’s snagged the once-soaring team.

Bruce Bochy said his pitchers are just making costly mistakes, giving in on tough counts rather than allowing the strategic walk. The Reds capitalized on four mistakes — two from Matt Cain and two from Sergio Romo — though, this time, that wasn’t enough to hand Cincinnati a win.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Tuesday night, a three-run longball by none other than Cain (W, 2-6, 5.95 ERA) himself — his first round-tripper since 2012 — pushed the Giants (59-41) to a 9-7 win to even the series.

The home run marked Cain’s second hit this season. It’s been a long time coming for the once best pitching hitter in this organization, said Bruce Bochy:

“In the early go Matt was having a rough time with the bat, but he’s been swinging better and he’s got big power when he gets ahold of it. “

Cain’s power strike opened the flood gates; the Giants bats answered the Reds’ dominant home run power with their trademark move-the-line offense.

Brandon Belt regained his patience at the plate, reaching base four times, three for walks. Buster Posey pulled himself into the Denard Span-Angel Pagan stolen base ranks, stealing second and third base to set up a sacrifice fly.

Brandon Crawford regained his clutch stroke, going 3-for-5 with the game-deciding two-run RBI triple in the seventh inning. He added those two RBI to his team-leading count that’s stood stagnant since the first half. Said Bochy:

“Throughout the lineup somebody did something to contribute, even the little things…The bats picked us up tonight, and that last road trip they were pretty quiet. So god job by the hitters. They did a lot of little things there to help us win.”

Said Crawford:

“We’ll take the runs any way we can get them.”

Under the radar, Belt made two more crucial contributions. He made a stink on a pair of calls that ultimately extended big scoring innings.

Belt was called out at third on Ramiro Pena‘s base hit, but stood firm in denial. New York called him safe on replay, prefacing Cain’s three-run bomb. The Giants took a 4-0 lead.

The second call preserved a bases-loaded threat in the third. Belt was called out on Brandon Phillips‘ tag on a potential double play ball. Belt knew he evaded the tag. New York took only 15 seconds to reverse the call. Williamson scored to make it 5-0.

But the Reds had more power in them that Cain couldn’t hold off.

Joey Votto hit a solo shot in the fourth to make it 5-1. Adam Duvall pummeled a 3-2 slider in the sixth to make it 6-4. That slider would be Cain’s final pitch of the night; he lasted 5-1/3 innings for his second win of the season.

Those two homers weren’t indicative of Cain’s statement win. He offered another angle to this pitching staff’s recent long ball rut:

“We’ve run into some guys that have hit some home runs. Boston’s been doing it, San Diego’s been doing it since we left there. We just have to do a better job of pitching to the end of the bat and at the hands a little and out of the middle. Just seems to be some of the guys are capitalizing on the long ball, and we have to do a better job of that as a staff.”

The Padres have hit home runs in 24 straight games. The Red Sox, led by David Ortiz, have been powering it out all season. The heart of the Reds lineup ranks among the top of the National League in home runs.

And, yes, the Giants are making mistakes. Cain kept it together:

“I just did a better job of keeping the ball off the middle of the plate. A couple of them there at the end ran over the plate.”

The Reds gained ground on Sergio Romo, who gave up back-to-back home runs to Jay Bruce and Duvall in the eighth inning, putting the Reds within three. It was the first time Romo allowed more than one home run in a game in his career.

Santiago Casilla teetered on the brink in the ninth, allowing a walk to Billy Hamilton and a single to Zack Cozart before Votto’s sac fly plated Hamilton. Casilla would settle down to strike out Bruce for his 22nd save. Bochy is used to the stress:

“We don’t do anything easy.”

Notes

Ramiro Pena left the game late after taking a sharp ground ball to a painful area. Bochy said he’s day-to-day:

“It’s a contusion and you know where.”

Hunter Pence went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in Sacramento earlier today. He’s expected back in about a week. Joe Panik, who also played today’s game in Sacramento, could be back as early as this weekend. … The Giants must make a decision on Ehire Adrianza a week from now. He’s showed a lot of home run power in Sacramento, but he faces a crowded mess of infield call-ups in San Francisco.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.