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Cain Ks career-high 12 as Giants avoid sweep at home

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Matt Cain might be too young to get
discouraged about the San Francisco Giants' struggles. With an
outstanding start at the end of a nightmarish two-week stretch, he
reminded his teammates they've still got time to turn it around.

Cain had a career-high 12 strikeouts in seven strong innings,
Pedro Feliz drove in two runs and the Giants avoided a historic
home sweep with a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

Mark Sweeney, Feliz and Cain each drove in a run with
bases-loaded singles to center during a small-ball rally in the
sixth, and the Giants hung on for just their second victory in 13
games while falling from first place to last in the mediocre NL
West.

They also prevented Colorado from sweeping a series in San
Francisco for the first time in franchise history. Barry Bonds even
seemed to be recharged, capping one of his best weekends of the
season with a hard-hit ground-rule double while scoring two runs.

But Cain (8-8) was the most impressive, baffling the Rockies
with power and deception during his third 10-strikeout game of the
season. While his teammates' heads have drooped during the skid,
the 21-year-old rookie right-hander remains optimistic.

"I'm definitely going to [savor] this one because of the
situation we're in right now," Cain said. "We've got a lot of
games left. If we get on a roll, it will work out fine for us.
We're not that far out anyway."

Cain allowed six hits and walked just one batter, striking out
Colorado cleanup hitter Matt Holliday three times while mowing down
the Rockies' lineup. He even picked up his first career RBI,
driving in the final run of San Francisco's three-run sixth.

Cain's best outings have been outstanding this season: He
pitched a one-hitter against Oakland in May, and was four outs away
from a no-hitter against the Angels in June. But he had lost his
last two starts before he baffled the Rockies on the final day
before the Giants open a 10-game trip.

"We've been getting some real good starting pitching here,
almost all year," manager Felipe Alou said. "If we could put it
together with some saves, some holds in the eighth inning, that
would translate to a couple of more wins."

Alou hopes the victory ended an embarrassing stretch for the
Giants, who lost nine straight during their skid. The Rockies have
endured their share of stumbles this season, but they've been
playing much better baseball than San Francisco in recent weeks,
winning seven of 10 despite this loss.

"We felt the West was a swinging gate," said manager Clint
Hurdle, whose club opens a four-game series against streaking Los
Angeles on Monday night. "Our goal was to get to .500, and we
couldn't pull it off today. Hopefully we'll be more focused and
more determined next time out."

Garrett Atkins hit his 16th homer for the Rockies, who won two
of three in San Francisco despite managing just 18 hits in the
series.

Cain struck out the side in the seventh, finishing off
pinch-hitter Jason Smith with his 110th pitch. Only former Giants
catcher Yorvit Torrealba had much success against Cain, with an RBI
single, a triple and a walk.

Aaron Cook (7-10) nearly added another solid outing to the
Rockies' recent stretch of standout starting pitching before
falling apart in the sixth. He yielded nine hits and five runs over
5 1-3 innings.

Sweeney's bloop single broke a sixth-inning tie after the
Giants' first three batters reached base -- including Bonds, whose
ground-rule double bounced near the warning track in the park's
deepest section.

"He should have hit it out, honestly," Cook said of his
straight-down-the-middle pitch. "I expect to be a better pitcher
than I'm pitching right now. I proved to myself I could do it in
the last couple of months of last season, and it's frustrating not
to be able to do it again."

After getting the first RBI in the sixth, Sweeney drove in Bonds
with another run in the seventh when Jorge Piedra lost his popup in
the sun.

Game notes
Feliz made a slick fielding play in the sixth, reaching
back behind his head on the run to snag Helton's foul popup. ...
Cain's 12 strikeouts surpassed his 11-strikeout performance against
San Diego on July 1. ... The Rockies have won three straight series
after losing their previous five.