SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Another rough relief outing by Sean Burnett ended up negating the best start of Yunesky Maya’s career.
Burnett allowed two runs in the seventh inning and Washington was unable to generate much offense at all against an overpowering Matt Cain as the Nationals fell to the Giants 3-1 Wednesday.
Burnett relieved Maya to start the seventh inning after the Nationals had tied the game on Rick Ankiel’s double in the top half for their only run off Cain (5-4).
Burnett allowed a one-out single to Cody Ross and then a two-out triple to rookie Brandon Crawford that gave the Giants a 2-1 lead. Eli Whiteside followed with an RBI single for an insurance run.
Burnett also allowed a two-run single to Aubrey Huff on Monday to contribute to a loss and blew a lead last week in Philadelphia. His ERA is now 5.96.
“Sean is going through one of those things where nothing is going right,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “I’d make the same decision. He’s the guy I wanted out there. He just hung a breaking ball. By all accounts he’s throwing the ball very well. We remain confident in his ability.”
Everything went right for Cain, who struck out 11 and pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game of the season. He also hit an RBI double for San Francisco’s only run off Maya as the Giants won for the sixth time in eight games.
“He did it all,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was quite a job for Matty. He pitched very efficiently, had all his pitches going. ... It was a great all-around game for him.”
Maya allowed one run and four hits in six innings but remained winless in eight career starts.
“I threw a lot more strikes and attacked the zone,” Maya said through an interpreter. “I felt like I wasn’t doing that before. I worked a little bit on my mechanics and felt a lot better. I pitched with confidence.”
Cain and Maya were strong early, with the game remaining scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning. That’s when the Giants came through with back-to-back, one-out doubles by Whiteside and Cain. The hit was just the third in 27 at-bats this season for Cain and his first RBI in exactly one year. The Giants were unable to add on as Maya got Freddy Sanchez to ground out with runners on second and third to end the inning.
The Nationals answered in the bottom half when Mike Morse hit a leadoff single and later scored on Ankiel’s two-out double. That’s just the fifth run the Nats have scored for Maya in his eight big-league starts.
But the Giants took the lead back with two runs in the bottom half off Burnett. That proved to be more than enough for Cain, who improved to 16-0 over the past two years when getting at least three runs of support. He allowed five hits and one walk in his 13th career complete game, needing just 110 pitches.
“I felt good,” Cain said. “We were just ahead in the count a lot. Eli was calling a lot of good pitches. We were on the same page early.”
Cain was dominating from the start with the only hit he allowed in the first five innings coming on Danny Espinosa’s bunt with two outs in the second. The Nationals got their first clean hit with two outs in the sixth when Ian Desmond lined a single to left-center.
But Washington was unable to generate any threats against Cain, who struck out the side in order in the fourth inning against the middle of the Nationals lineup.
The Giants didn’t fare much better early against Maya, despite getting leadoff hits in the second and third innings. Aubrey Huff was doubled off first to end the second when he ran on Aaron Rowand’s blooper that was caught by right fielder Laynce Nix. Brandon Crawford was then caught stealing for the second out in the third inning by Wilson Ramos, who has thrown out 11 of 23 attempted basestealers.
Notes: The Nationals won the season-series with the World Series champion Giants 4-3. ... Cain has seven double-digit strikeout games in his career. ... Washington stole two bases against Whiteside. Giants catchers have thrown out just two of the past 22 attempted basestealers.