Cain picks up win No. 12 as Giants hold on, 3-1 |

Cain picks up win No. 12 as Giants hold on, 3-1

The Associated Press

DENVER – For a game played in the July heat, this sure had a cool September feel.

Matt Cain detected it on the mound. The noisier the crowd became, the nastier he pitched.

Cain became the major leagues’ second 12-game winner, scattering three hits over seven innings and the San Francisco Giants beat Colorado 3-1 on Friday night to pull even with the Rockies in the NL wild-card race.

Too early to talk postseason?

“No. This is where we have to concentrate – take these games,” Cain said of the three-game series. “We let something slip now and that could come back to bite us down the road.”

Cain pitched with a playoff zest, giving up one run and striking out five as he moved to 37-6 all-time when the Giants score three or more runs for him.

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Although he struggled with his command at times, issuing four walks, he didn’t allow his first hit until the fifth when Ian Stewart lined a two-out hopper through the right side of the infield.

And yes, he had visions of a no-hitter. Even more so when third baseman Pablo Sandoval robbed the speedy Dexter Fowler of a hit with a nifty play in the fourth.

“I think as a pitcher, most know,” Cain admitted. “You definitely try to keep it going.”

Cain (12-2) joined Colorado’s Jason Marquis as the only 12-game winners this season. He lowered his ERA to 2.27, the third-best mark in the NL.

It may be early, but there’s talk about Cain as a serious Cy Young candidate.

Not that Giants manager Bruce Bochy wants to address that subject – not yet at least.

“We’ve got a lot of baseball left,” Bochy said. “But I can’t say enough about what he’s done this year. He’s really emerged as a terrific pitcher. He’s not trying to power his way through guys, has great poise out there. We’ll see. We’ll talk about that in September.”

Cain definitely earned the Rockies’ respect.

“He was real good,” Troy Tulowitzki said. “He’s one of the better guys in the league and he throws hard.”

It was supposed to be a matchup of two of the elite pitchers in the NL. But Marquis was bumped due to a bothersome blister on his right middle finger.

Jason Hammel (5-5) started in his place, giving up three runs and seven hits in six innings.

“I had a lot of fun tonight. Even though we lost, it was a great game,” Hammel said.

For Fred Lewis, Coors Field has become his home away from AT&T Park. He increased his career batting average to .365 with a 3-for-3 night, finishing a homer shy of the cycle.

The left-handed hitting Lewis singled in the first, doubled in the fourth and tripled in the sixth. In his final at-bat in the eighth, he was walked on five pitches by southpaw Franklin Morales.

“His playing time picked up and he’s taking advantage of it,” Bochy said. “He had a good game out there.”

The Giants entered the game as the only team without a homer following the All-Star break. Nate Schierholtz ended that dubious distinction in the fourth, connecting on a 93-mph fastball from Hammel.

It was his fourth of the season.

Rafael Betancourt made his Rockies debut in the eighth inning, setting the Giants down in order. Betancourt was acquired Thursday from Cleveland and added to the roster before the game.

NOTES: Giants OF Aaron Rowand (bruised right forearm) and INF Edgar Renteria (right elbow) were given another day off to rest. They’re expected to be available Saturday night. … LHP Randy Johnson (strained shoulder) is going to have an MRI on Monday to see how much progress he’s made. “We’re still being optimistic we’ll get good news Monday and he’ll start his rehab,” Bochy said before the game. … Marquis is scheduled to start Tuesday night in New York. … Jeremy Affeldt pitched a perfect eighth for his 27th straight scoreless inning. … Rockies 3B Garrett Atkins had an RBI double in the sixth.

Yankees 8, Athletics 3

NEW YORK – Joba Chamberlain looked toward Jorge Posada behind home plate, nodded his head at the signal and sent another pitch zipping past Oakland’s Eric Patterson.

The fiery young right-hander pumped his fist as he spun off the mound and headed for the dugout, the fifth-inning strikeout stranding two runners in scoring position. It was the only real trouble Chamberlain got in while pitching the Yankees to their eighth straight win.

“Emotion is real important to him,” manager Joe Girardi said, after the Yankees’ 8-3 victory Friday night. “I don’t think he’s showing anybody up. I think he feeds off that emotion.”

The Yankees have been feasting off something lately.

Derek Jeter drove in two runs and passed Ted Williams on the career hit list, Johnny Damon drove in three runs and Posada hit a solo homer for the Yankees, who are 21-5 over the last month to take over first place in the AL East. They lead the Boston Red Sox by 2 1/2 games.

Oakland has lost eight straight to New York and 17 of 26 overall.

“You just have to take it day by day. We’re not coming in here saying we have any streaks,” said Jeter, whose three hits gave him 2,655. “You just try to ride the wave as long as you can, try to keep it going.”

Chamberlain (6-2) was dominant for the second straight start, giving up a run and two hits pitching into the eighth inning. He struck out six in his longest outing since June 1.

He credited a trip home to Nebraska over the All-Star break for getting his mindset right.

“I’m just having fun, back to being myself,” Chamberlain said. “It’s hard to be good at this game. You’re going to have your failures, but it’s how you react to those failures.”

The stumbling A’s are learning that lesson.

They wasted another decent start from young Brett Anderson (5-8), who came in riding a 21-inning scoreless streak. He lost for the first time in six starts, done in by an offense that couldn’t score runs even when it had Matt Holliday.

The three-time All-Star was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals earlier Friday for three minor league prospects, taking one of the A’s hottest bats out of the middle of the order. Holliday’s trade had been widely expected, with Oakland (40-55) off to its worst start since 1997.

“This is a resilient team,” manager Bob Geren said, when asked about losing Holliday. “I think that it just gives someone else an opportunity to go out there and play.”

Things began promising for the A’s, with Orlando Cabrera hitting a one-out double and scoring on Scott Hairston’s sacrifice fly in the first inning. But they managed only one other hit against Chamberlain, who has allowed five total in his last two starts.

The Yankees’ eight-game winning streak has been a testament to their pitching more than anything. This was the first time they had won by more than three runs, and it was their best offensive showing in nine games.

“It’s one of the toughest lineups in the league,” Anderson said, “if not the toughest.”