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Cain lifts Giants back into first place

AT&T PARK — The Giants are back in first place. At least for the time being.

San Francisco took a step in the right direction Wednesday night, starting a five-game homestand at AT&T Park with a 5-2 victory over the A’s following two embarrassing losses across the Bay.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

This story will be updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the Giants clubhouse.

A loss by the Los Angeles Dodgers brought the Giants back into a tie with their rivals for first place in the NL West, after losing their hold on the top spot last week.

San Francisco bats were hot for the first time in recent memory, scoring five runs after managing only one in two games at the Oakland Coliseum. Hunter Pence led the charge with two RBI’s and a key home run in the fourth inning.

Manager Bruce Bochy has been struggling for answers regarding his team’s recent free fall, and couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle when asked about being back in first:

“If you look at how things have gone you may find that amazing, but that’s all from the good work that happened earlier. We gotta get back on track. This was one game. We scratched and clawed and got some runs in. …There’s a long road ahead of us, but they’re fighting.”

A solid performance from Matt Cain (W, 2-7, 4.18 ERA) helped stifle a red hot Oakland A’s lineup that leads the Major Leagues in runs scored. The win was Cain’s first since May 15.

The A’s had their season-high tying six-game winning streak snapped, however have still won 10 of their last 14 games and 17 of their last 24.

For the first time against Oakland this season, the Giants struck first. Joe Panik got his first hit against Oakland after going 0-for-8 across the Bay with a one out single to left in the second inning.

A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes bobbled the ball, allowing Gregor Blanco to score from second, leaving the former first round pick standing at second with one of the biggest hits of his young career.

Buster Posey had a big third inning for the Giants, catching Coco Crisp at second with a rocket throw to end the top half, and then giving the Giants’ an RBI single in the bottom half. It marked the Giants first hit with a runner in scoring position in three games against Oakland.

After having the bases loaded with one out, allowing only one run in the third was a success for Oakland starter Jason Hammel (L, 8-6, 3.01 ERA), who made his first start for the A’s since being traded from the Chicago Cubs.

The right-hander had a decent debut for Oakland — allowing two earned runs in five innings — but saw his night cut short after experiencing an injury to his left thumb in the bottom of the fifth inning.

With the Giants’ looking like a decent baseball team for the first time in three weeks, A’s first-baseman Stephen Vogt brought them back down to Earth with a home run over Levi’s Landing in right field.

Vogt’s third homer of the year came after seeing 12 pitches from Cain, four of which came before Crisp was thrown out at second to end the third.

Hunter Pence saw Vogt’s blast and raised him in the next half inning, with a 420-foot detonation to dead center to extend the Giants lead to 3-1. The Giants’ All-Star had another multi-hit game going 2-for-5, and now leads the NL in that category with 33 this season.

Pence is known for the energy he brings to the clubhouse, but Bochy said it was his fire on the diamond that gave the club a boost Wednesday:

“When you got a guy like Pence with his energy it kind gets guys going. What a great game he had. That kind of play gets contagious.”

RBI singles from the A’s Jed Lowrie and Pence in the sixth inning, made the game 4-2.

A’s reliever Eric O’Flaherty had a rough outing after spelling Hammel, throwing a wild pitch after allowing the Pence RBI which gave the Giants two runs in the sixth and extended their lead to 5-2.

Sergio Romo entered in the eighth for a 1-2-3 inning that brought the AT&T Park crowd to their feet. It was a vintage performance for Romo, whose unhittable slider made both Cespedes and Craig Gentry look helpless on swinging strikes.

Bochy did not sound like someone who’s lost confidence in the former All-Star:

“Great sequence. Tonight he mixed it up. More important he was aggressive. He pounded the strike zone and he had good stuff. We all have our hiccups. He’s gonna get on track and this was a great start.”

Santiago Casilla wrapped it up in the 9th with a routine save, his fourth of the season.

The Giants play the second (but lets be honest, fourth) and final game of the series tomorrow at 12:45 PM. Two of the best pitchers in the majors this year will be squaring off when Giants RHP Tim Hudson (7-5, 2.53 ERA) faces Athletics LHP Scott Kazmir (10-3, 2.53 ERA


The Giants snapped a two-game losing streak and won at home for the third time in their last 14 games. … Tomorrow, the Giants will seek back-to-back home wins for the first time since a five-game win streak from May 27-June 8. … Matt Cain snapped a personal four-game losing streak and earned his second win of the season. … Stephen Vogt singled in his first at-bat (then later homered in his second at-bat) to extend his hitting streak to nine games, a new career-best. Vogt is hitting .467 during that stretch.

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