SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' bullpen has been dominant this month, Yusmeiro Petit has proved to be a surprise contributor, and Matt Cain has returned to the rotation.
The pitching staff is figuring it out, but at the plate, the last-place Giants continue to mostly look lost. The Giants managed just six hits -- all singles -- against Brandon McCarthy and Brad Ziegler on Saturday while losing 2-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The lineup will need a jolt over the offseason, but as the Giants look toward 2014, they're finding positive signs in other facets of the game. The defense was sparkling Saturday and Cain allayed any concerns about his health, giving up just two runs over 61/3 innings in his first start since getting hit on the right arm by a line drive.
"Everything felt pretty good," said Cain, who returned from the disabled list after suffering a right forearm contusion. "The rhythm felt good and (Hector) Sanchez and I worked together pretty well. Everything felt good. It felt like it was as normal as could be."
Cain gave up an RBI single in the fourth and run-scoring triple in the fifth, giving back a 1-0 lead. The Giants never recovered against McCarthy, who struck out six and allowed just one runner to reach scoring position.
"His ball was moving a lot," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We didn't hit any balls hard."
Cain took his ninth loss of the season, but for the Giants it was a positive just to have him back on the field. Madison Bumgarner and Cain will lead the rotation into the 2014 season, and Bochy said Saturday that Petit has thrown his name into that mix with three strong starts, including a one-hitter Friday night.
"It certainly helps his cause," Bochy said. "He's had three really impressive starts against good clubs and in tough ballparks for his first two. He's taking advantage of these starts by throwing the ball the way he is. It certainly will help us think about him differently, that he is a guy who can be considered in the rotation or to help out in the bullpen.
"He's doing what he needs to do -- he's making a lot of noise."
Petit brought the thunder back to AT&T Park on Friday when he came one strike away from throwing a perfect game. When he got home later, Petit watched a replay of the best game he has ever pitched, but it wasn't until Saturday morning that he experienced what may have been the highlight of his nearly perfect game.
"I called my dad," Petit said. "He said that after the sixth inning he couldn't stop crying."
Alberto Petit watched from Venezuela as his son flirted with history. On Saturday, Yusmeiro Petit was still baffled by one pitch, but it wasn't the one that Diamondbacks pinch-hitter Eric Chavez roped into right field with two outs and two strikes in the ninth.
"I don't know how he didn't swing at that ball," Petit said of the 2-2 curveball a pitch before. "I'm still surprised. He's had a long career and has experience, and that's the reason, I think. But I'm still surprised. It was a good pitch. I asked Hector, 'How could he not swing at that pitch?' Hector said he didn't know. He took it like he knew it was coming.
It was still a good experience. I wanted to be perfect, but I'll never forget that game."
Cain was perfect more than a year ago against the Houston Astros, and he said he was crushed Friday when Petit came one out away from joining the exclusive club.
"It was so sad to see with the way he threw the ball all game," Cain said. "It was just so close. He threw unbelievably well — he might have missed two or three spots the whole night. That's unheard of."
"It felt as good as I could hope for," Posey said. "It was good."
Posey has missed four straight games and Bochy was unsure of when the catcher would return to the starting lineup.
Arizona (Wade Miley 9-10) at Giants (Madison Bumgarner 11-9), 1:05 p.m. CSNBA