NEW YORK -- For years, it would have been impossible to imagine the Giants making a run without Matt Cain.

But on the day the longtime workhorse was officially scheduled for season-ending surgery, the Giants continued to show the kind of depth that can allow them to push forward. Hunter Pence scored twice, Buster Posey drew four walks, Pablo Sandoval drove in three runs, and the bullpen gave up just two hits over four scoreless innings as the Giants beat the New York Mets 4-3 Monday to take a third win in this four-game wraparound series.

"It was a great win," Sandoval said, beaming.

Cain didn't say much of anything, except that he will continue to travel with the Giants for now. Team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki will remove the bone chips in Cain's right elbow Monday in San Francisco, and Cain will be sidelined about three months. The Giants expect Cain to be ready by spring training next season, when he may or may not share a clubhouse with Sandoval.

The third baseman is a free agent at the end of the season, and if this is what his contract drive looks like, the Giants will be thrilled. Sandoval has been outstanding defensively all season long, and he's hitting .319 since the All-Star break.


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With the Giants down 2-0 in the third inning, Sandoval drove a double into the gap to score Pence and Posey. In a tie game in the ninth, he poked a slider from Mets closer Jenrry Mejia down the left-field line, bringing Gregor Blanco in as the go-ahead run. Sandoval's arms were raised even before he reached first, and he screamed and pointed back at the dugout with both arms as Blanco crossed the plate.

"It's one of those things every hitter wants in that situation," Sandoval said. "I was just trying to play pepper with the ball."

Sandoval's light touch made the Mets pay for walking Posey four times the day after he had four hits. The No. 3 hitter has reached base nine times in his last 11 plate appearances; Sandoval, the man behind Posey, followed two of Monday's walks with run-scoring hits.

"Pablo really picked us up," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You're hoping the guy behind (Posey) can pick it up, and Pablo did. He had a terrific game."

The Giants again got production up and down the lineup. Pence had a double and triple, the latter helping the Giants tie the game in the seventh inning. Blanco had a hit, walk, run, stolen base and a spectacular throw from center that nailed Juan Lagares as he tried to go first-to-third on a single with one out in the second. The bottom of the lineup came through, too. New York native Joe Panik had a career-high three hits in front of a small group of family members and friends.

"It felt really good, I'm not going to lie," Panik said.

Bochy saw the well-distributed production and strong defense and pictured a group in sync for the stretch run.

"Knock on wood," he said. "We're doing a better job of laying off pitches, taking walks and keeping the line moving."

The Mets might be six games under .500, but they have a hard-throwing and underrated pitching staff, which made the Giants' 20 runs over four games in a big park all the more encouraging.

"I can definitely see signs of our guys going out there and having a much better approach and purpose to their at-bats," said Tim Hudson, who gave up two earned runs over five innings. "It's just going to be nice once we get everyone in there."

The lineup could be whole later this week if Angel Pagan returns as planned. The rotation is patched together, with Jake Peavy playing the part of Cain the rest of the year. Cain hasn't pitched since July 9, and all three doctors he visited suggested that the bone chips come out.

He will fail to reach 30 starts for the first time as a full-time big leaguer and will finish the year at 2-7 with a 4.18 ERA. After throwing at least 1841/3 innings every year since 2006, Cain will end up with just 901/3 this season. He has spent a decade pitching with the bone chips and couldn't go on any longer.

"It's been frustrating for him," Bochy said. "Matt's been battling this for a while. It's time. He could keep trying to push it, but it's inevitable, it looks like. Let's have this done and get him ready for spring training."

For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.

Tuesday's game
Giants (Tim Lincecum (9-7) at Milwaukee (Jimmy Nelson 1-2), 5:10 p.m. CSNBA