SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Cain has put a premium on his durability during his major-league pitching career, and he isn't about to stop now.
The right-hander had started San Francisco's spring opener on Feb. 27, but missed two starts due to inflammation in his right elbow. He insisted he was fine all along, but the Giants wanted to be careful. They allowed him to throw a bit on the side, but nothing in games.
The true test came on Monday, when Cain started against the Milwaukee Brewers. He threw three scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out one batter.
Those who followed Cain to the mound, namely veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan, weren't nearly as fortunate. The Brewers rallied for six runs -- five earned -- off Suppan and went on to post a 12-8 victory in front of 11,686 at Scottsdale Stadium.
"Everything felt good," said Cain, who has thrown 200 or more innings in four of his five full major-league seasons and was at 190 in his first full season. "In the first inning, I was leaving some pitches over the middle of the plate and they hit some line drives at guys. The more I threw, the more I was able to work the corners.
"It's always a concern to leave pitches over the plate, but that means I'm throwing more strikes. I'd rather give up hits now than walks."
The key for Cain came with two outs in the third and two runners on base. He struck out Brewers slugger Ryan Braun when Braun took a mighty uppercut at a curveball for the final out. Braun was playing after missing two games with a strained ribcage muscle.
"I like to have situations like that in the spring like you have in the season," Cain said. "You have to find ways to get guys out in those situations. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't."
Giants catcher Buster Posey said Cain had better command of his fastball after the first inning.
"He has been the model of consistency for us," Posey said. "He is an intricate part of our rotation. They all have different personalities, different styles. They've all got good stuff."
Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy: "It looked like Matty wasn't missing a beat. He was letting it go, hitting his spots. He was confident throwing any pitch at any time."
The Giants and Brewers survived a scare in the fourth inning. Sandoval went to field a ground ball by Zelous Wheeler and ran into baserunner Chris Dickerson in a vicious collision. Both players had the wind knocked out of them and were down on the field for a few moments. Sandoval remained in the game, but Dickerson left shortly thereafter with bruised ribs. X-rays showed no fractures.
Winning pitcher Randy Wolf was relieved that the players got up.
"Thank God that Sandoval lost 30 pounds over the winter. Otherwise, that would have been a decapitation," Wolf said.
LHP Barry Zito threw well in a minor-league intrasquad game for the Giants. ... The World Series champions pared 21 from their roster: nine pitchers, two catchers, five infielders and five outfielders. ... Bochy said Suppan "had one of those spring training tough days. It was a day when they [Brewers] found holes everywhere and we didn't make plays." ... Bochy said teams appear to be making more errors now because the increasing desert temperatures are causing "infields to get baked pretty good all over the Cactus League. But we still have to tighten some things up." ... Brewers OF Logan Schaefer sustained a thumb injury while sliding into second base. ... The Giants' spring ERA jumped from 3.11 to 3.54. ... OF Andres Torres has a nine-game hitting streak. ... Brewers OF Boggs began the spring going 2 for 14 but has gone 11 for 26 since.
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