SAN FRANCISCO -- It started so well. Matt Cain threw a perfect seven-pitch top of the first, and the Giants then scored a first-inning run for the first time since June 18.
But by the third inning, the vexing competitive vertigo that has afflicted the Giants for the better part of a month had reached depressing new depths -- against the Los Angeles Dodgers, no less.
Hoping to regain their bearings Friday night back home at AT&T Park with their ace on the mound, the Giants instead suffered possibly their most mortifying loss of the season, 10-2 to the Dodgers. Yes, maybe even worse than the no-hitter.
It was their 10th defeat in 11 games, and if it didn't represent rock bottom, it's scary to think what might come next.
Cain was knocked out of the game after 21/3 innings, the Dodgers led 8-1 by the third inning, and the Giants offense continued to suffer from acute anemia, managing just four hits against Los Angeles starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3) over his 62/3 innings of work.
Adding insult to injury, one of the Giants' 2010 World Series heroes, Juan Uribe, had one of the biggest nights of his career -- a two-run double and a bases-loaded triple against Cain and a two-run home run off reliever Mike Kickham for seven RBIs.
Manager Bruce Bochy might be out of answers, but he isn't giving up on his team.
"We're getting tested, but you get stronger when you're tested," he said. "This is a tough group, and they're going through a very difficult time now. They're trying. It's not like they're quitting. They're probably trying a little too hard."
Bochy still thinks there'll be a breakthrough at some point that puts the Giants back on the right track, but a turnaround definitely didn't happen this night, despite the promising first inning. Cain entered the second inning having retired 23 batters in a row counting his previous start in Colorado, when he retired the final 20 hitters he faced.
But inexplicably, the wheels came off for the veteran Giants right-hander. He threw 32 pitches in the second inning, loaded the bases with nobody out and managed to escape with minimal damage -- a two-run double by Uribe.
But Cain (5-5) didn't survive the third. Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig opened the inning with a double to left, Adrian Gonzalez walked and red-hot Hanley Ramirez singled to center to make it 3-1 Los Angeles. Cain retired Andre Either on a fly out but walked Carl Crawford and surrendered a run-scoring single to A.J. Ellis.
Then came the crushing blow -- a line drive to left by Uribe that Friday call-up Cole Gillespie tried to snare but let get by him for a three-run triple.
Cain's final line: 21/3 innings, six hits, eight earned runs, four walks and a lone strikeout. He'd given up only seven earned runs in his last five starts combined, and it was his shortest outing since Sept. 22, 2009, when he also went just 21/3 innings against Arizona.
"I got ahead of guys but didn't finish them off and ended up making bad pitches," Cain said. "The times I got behind guys, I made bad pitches, too."
"He just got out of sync and was battling himself pretty much," said Bochy. "He had been throwing the ball so well, too, but tonight, he was off."
Cain agreed with his manager that too many of the Giants might be pressing individually to right the ship.
"When things aren't going right, everybody wants to be that guy who gets something going in the right direction," he said. "In some ways, you might try to do too much. We just need to find a way to get things going, and get past what we're in right now."
L.A. Dodgers (Stephen Fife 3-2) at Giants (Madison Bumgarner 8-5), 4:15 p.m. FOX