Some of the worst run support in the NL prevented San Francisco Giants right-hander Matt Cain from putting up all-star numbers over his previous two seasons.
In his last three starts, poor run support has also kept the recently named All-Star pitcher from challenging for the league's lead in victories.Fresh off his first selection to the NL team, Cain will try to add to his momentous week by becoming the league's second 10-game winner in Monday night's opener of a three-game series against the visiting Florida Marlins.The Giants starter finished 8-14 last season with his team giving him an NL-worst 3.14 runs per game. He was 7-16 in 2007 with his club providing 3.51 runs per game, which ranked second-to-last.At the beginning of this season, that changed drastically as San Francisco gave Cain (9-2, 2.48 ERA) an average of 6.23 runs through his first 13 outings, and he responded with a 9-1 start, which helped earn his first All-Star berth."It's definitely something I've always wanted to do (since) I was younger," he told the Giants' official Web site.Since winning his seventh straight decision June 14 against Oakland, however, his teammates have provided him with just one run in each of his last three starts.Cain, 0-1 in that time despite a 2.86 ERA, held St. Louis to one run over seven innings Wednesday but did not receive a decision in the Giants' 2-1 defeat in 10 innings. The right-hander, who has pitched at least seven innings in a season-high four consecutive starts, is 1-0 with a 3.25 ERA in four outings against the Marlins and earned the lone win in Miami on Aug. 18, 2007.He'll face a Florida team that's moved within a game of Philadelphia in the NL East and capped a 5-1 homestand with a 5-0 victory Sunday over Pittsburgh.The Marlins (43-40), however, could use better efforts away from home as they have dropped five of six on the road heading into a seven-game trip against the Giants and Arizona.Florida is also 3-6 in San Francisco since 2006 and lost twice in the ninth inning to conclude their previous trip there Aug. 19-21.Last month, the teams split a four-game set in Miami, and Sean West (3-2, 4.06) concluded that series with his first major league victory, tossing eight innings in a 4-0 win June 8. Since then, the rookie left-hander is 2-1 with a 6.30 ERA and has allowed five runs twice in last three outings.West gave up five over 4 1/3 innings in Tuesday's rain-shortened game against Washington before his teammates rallied for a 7-5 victory in seven.The Giants (44-37) opened their season-high 10-game homestand with a pair of wins over Houston, but fell 7-1 in Sunday's series finale as starter Randy Johnson left the game with a left shoulder strain after committing a throwing error in the top of the fourth.San Francisco infielder Pablo Sandoval is expected to return Monday after sitting out Sunday's loss with a bruised knee. Sandoval, hitting .333 this season, is one of five players vying for the final spot on the NL All-Star team.Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez also hopes to play Monday after missing Sunday's game with a tight right hip flexor. The NL's leading hitter (.346) was voted to start his second straight All-Star Game."I'll see how it feels after a 7-hour plane ride," Ramirez said.