LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Cain gave up a career-worst 23 home runs last season. And in his second start of 2014, he had similar problems keeping the ball in the park against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The San Francisco Giants’ right-hander allowed Matt Kemp’s first two homer at Dodger Stadium since late in 2012, and one of two hit by Hanley Ramirez on Sunday night in a 6-2 loss that prevented a sweep of their NL West rivals.
It was the eighth time Cain surrendered three or more homers in a game during his 10-year career, and the first time since May 16, 2013, at Colorado in an 8-6 win. He’s given up four on two occasions.
“I made three really big mistakes to guys who can drive the ball well. That’s what ended up changing the game and that’s what ended up costing us,” Cain said. “Obviously, you want to keep the ball in the park, but I’ve always been a guy that can elevate the ball. But sometimes when it’s elevated to certain guys and you leave in certain areas, it’s prone to go out. I don’t want to nibble and I don’t want to go away from the strike zone. I’m going to try to attack guys.”
Kemp, who hit a career-high 39 home runs in 2011, entered Sunday with two homers and three RBIs in 54 career at-bats against Cain.
Cain threw Kemp a 1-0 pitch that ended up in the pavilion seats in left-center with two out in the second. It ended the two-time All-Star’s homerless drought of 140 at-bats at Chavez Ravine since his go-ahead two-run shot off Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa on Sept. 30, 2012.
Kemp did it again his next time up, this time to right-center on an 0-1 delivery after a double by Adrian Gonzalez. It was his sixth career multihomer game and first since Sept. 29, 2012.
“Cain’s a tough pitcher and he throws a lot of different pitches, so I was just looking to get a ball over the plate,” Kemp said. “He gave me a couple of them over the plate, and I put some good swings on them and did what I needed to do. My second home run, that’s when I know I’m seeing the ball good. When I’m driving the ball to right field. That’s my swing right there, and I’ve got to continue to do that to be successful.”
Cain (0-1) gave up five runs and six hits in six innings with three strikeouts and no walks. The Dodgers’ last run off him came on Andre Ethier’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.
“He was a lot sharper tonight and had good stuff. But in that fourth inning, he just got a couple of balls up,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Home runs are mistakes, and he made some mistakes tonight. If you don’t quite hit your spots, that’s what happens. That’s a good lineup and they’re a team with a lot of power, just like us. Tonight the ball was carrying better than I’ve ever seen it here.”
Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly chose not to start Kemp in the series opener because he had just been activated from the disabled list. But Mattingly reversed his decision after benching right fielder Yasiel Puig for arriving late to the ballpark.
Puig didn’t play Sunday, either. This time it was because of a swollen left thumb, which occurred on Saturday when he made a headfirst slide into first base on an infield hit. Puig finished that game, then left the ballpark earlier Sunday to get an MRI exam before rejoining his teammates in the dugout before the start of this one. The MRI showed a strained ligament in the thumb.
Zack Greinke (2-0) pitched six innings, allowing two runs and six hits, with eight strikeouts and no walks. The only runs off the right-hander were loud ones – Brandon Belt’s fourth homer leading off the sixth, and the first of the season by Hunter Pence three batters later.
“I’m sure it wasn’t something he was thinking about,” Bochy said. “He can hit. It’s funny, when a guy hits a little skid there you think, `Aw, it’s been forever since he’s hit a home run.’ But it’s the first road trip, and we all know that once we look up at the end of the year, his numbers will be there. He’s hit some balls hard, but he’s had some tough luck.”
Ramirez homered again to center field in the eighth against David Huff, capping his 15th career multihomer game.
Giants center fielder Angel Pagan singled his first two times up for San Francisco’s only hits through the first four innings – and robbed Greinke of an extra-base hit in the third with a diving catch in left-center.
NOTES: The Giants begin their home schedule Tuesday night, with Tim Hudson making his official debut with the team against Arizona’s Trevor Cahill. During Hudson’s six seasons across the San Francisco Bay with the Oakland Athletics, he started two home openers – beating Seattle 5-0 in 2003, and getting a no-decision against Texas in 2004 with the A’s winning 5-4. … Former “Entertainment Tonight” host Mary Hart was the guest public address announcer, filling in while Eric Smith was in Europe with the class he teaches.