Matt Cain pitches first perfect game in Giants’ history

Right-hander strikes out 14 in MLB’s 22nd perfecto

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Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox tossed the majors’ last perfect game at Seattle on April 21. This is the second time in three years there have been two perfect games in the same season — before that, the only other time it happened was in 1880.

Cain (8-2) won his career-best seventh straight start and accomplished a feat last done in the Bay Area by A’s lefty Dallas Braden on Mother’s Day 2010.

Braden tweeted congratulations, saying, “What a beautiful game.”

Cain’s day had already been a success. He was granted permission from general manager Brian Sabean to hit one drive into McCovey Cove alongside U.S. Open golfer Dustin Johnson before the game to show off one of his other favorite pastimes.

Not since 1917 have there been five no-hitters in a season by mid-June. The only year that came close was 1990, when Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart each pitched no-hitters on June 29 — the fourth and fifth of the season.

This year, Johan Santana tossed the New York Mets’ first no-hitter on June 1 and six Seattle pitchers shut down the Los Angeles Dodgers last Friday. Jered Weaver had one for the Los Angeles Angels on May 2.

The Astros were no-hit for the fifth time and first since Carlos Zambrano did so for the Cubs on Sept. 14, 2008.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy had a reliever warming up out of view in the batting cage area — but Cain didn’t know it. He didn’t need to.

“He’s been close to throwing a no-hitter,” Bochy said. “To get it makes it that much more special because he’s been with the Giants his entire career, he’s the senior guy on the staff.”

The Giants made a big commitment to Cain this spring, locking him up for a long haul — and he showed exactly why Sabean has vowed to keep his talented pitchers. In a week when the city’s attention turned to golf and the U.S. Open, Cain delivered his most impressive gem yet in his 216th career start.

The 125 pitches were the most ever thrown in a perfect game. The Astros had never gone 27 up, 27 down.

The two-time All-Star, who had endured a lack of run support, was rewarded with a new $127.5 million, six-year contract in early April before the season started. This certainly meant as much or more to the homegrown pitcher.

Cain threw 86 pitches for strikes, faced just four full counts and still clocked 90 mph in the ninth. Cain followed up Madison Bumgarner’s 12-strikeout gem in Tuesday night’s 6-3 win.

“I know when I haven’t given up a hit, I’m always conscious of it,” Cain said. “Probably the first time through the lineup I felt like I had good stuff. The first time through the lineup I felt like something could happen.”

Something special, all right. It was the first no-hitter by San Francisco since departed left-hander Jonathan Sanchez did it July 10, 2009, against the Padres at AT&T Park.

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