CHICAGO (AP) - Matt Cain said he feels fine, and manager Bruce Bochy thinks better days are ahead for the right-hander.
The San Francisco Giants could use the help really soon.
Cain was knocked out in the fifth inning, and the Giants lost 8-6 to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
“I’m making too many mistakes in situations where I can get myself out of it, and I’ve got to eliminate those,” Cain said.
Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer for the Giants, who have dropped three in a row and five of seven. Hunter Pence had two hits and scored twice.
Angel Pagan and Nori Aoki each had a run-scoring single in San Francisco’s three-run ninth before Justin Grimm came in with a runner on first and got Matt Duffy to ground out to shortstop for his third save.
“They did a good job coming back at the end - even early in the game,” Bochy said. “But it comes down to pitching. Right now, our starters are struggling and it makes it tough on the ‘pen.”
San Francisco (59-51) was hurt by an erratic outing from Cain, who set season highs with five walks and two hit batters in four-plus innings. The right-hander has allowed at least four runs in four of his last five starts in his comeback from elbow surgery and a strained flexor tendon.
“Is he where he’s going to be?” Bochy said. “I don’t think so, but I thought his stuff was good - 92, 93 (mph). He made some great pitches, he made some mistakes. I’m sure it’s going to get better with time.”
Kris Bryant homered and drove in three runs for Chicago, which has won nine of 10. He also walked and scored on Miguel Montero’s tiebreaking single in the fifth as the Cubs opened a 2 1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the race for the second NL wild card.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Bryant said. “I think our bats are turning it around a little bit. Our pitchers start doing what they did all year, and I mean, I think it’s looking pretty bright.”
Montero’s run-scoring single was his first hit since he came off the disabled list Friday after being sidelined for almost a month by a sprained left thumb. Jorge Soler then scampered home on a double-play grounder by pitcher Kyle Hendricks (6-5), lifting Chicago to a 5-3 lead.
The Cubs (61-48) moved 13 games over .500 for the first time since they finished the 2008 season with a 97-64 record. The victory also clinched their first series win at home against the Giants since taking two of three in June 2011.
San Francisco’s starting pitchers have yet to record an out in the fifth inning in this series, putting a strain on the bullpen.
“They’re having a tough time getting us deep in the game,” Bochy said. “But we’ve got another tough game facing a tough pitcher and we’ve got to come out here ready to go and put these behind us. We’ve got no way to look at it but move on, focus forward and keep pushing.”
Giants: C Andrew Susac (strained right thumb) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday. … RHP Mike Leake (strained left hamstring) is expected to throw off a mound Tuesday. Bochy said the club wants to be cautious with the injury, which occurred during routine conditioning during the Giants’ recent series at Atlanta. … Bochy said he plans to rest Pagan on Sunday. Pagan is dealing with soreness in his knees and played the first three games of the series.
Cubs: CF Dexter Fowler was hit on his right knee by a pitch in the second inning, sending him to the ground. He stayed in the game.
Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (12-6, 2.50 ERA) and Giants RHP Jake Peavy (2-4, 3.77) square off in the series finale. Arrieta is 6-1 with a 1.37 ERA in his last nine starts. Peavy has a string of four consecutive starts without a loss, going 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in that stretch.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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