ST. LOUIS (AP) — Matt Cain says there is no reason to panic.
The San Francisco right-hander tied a season-high by giving up five earned runs in the Giants’ 8-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.
Cain (10-5), a three-time All-Star, surrendered nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. He is 2/3 with a 4.40 ERA in nine starts since throwing a perfect game against Houston on June 13.
“I feel fine,” he said. “I just need to make better pitches and get quicker outs.”
Cain has given up 15 earned runs in his last four starts. Following the perfect game, Cain’s record was 8-2 with a 2.18 ERA. His ERA jumped to 3.01 after Monday’s loss, the highest total since he gave up five runs in a 7-6 loss at Arizona on April 8, his first start of the season.
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy, like Cain, is not concerned with the recent trend.
“He’s still our guy,” Bochy said. “I thought he had good stuff. I did.”
St. Louis right-hander Jake Westbrook shook off a second-pitch homer by Angel Pagan and threw six solid innings as the Cardinals won their seventh straight at home.
Carlos Beltran hit his 26th homer for the Cardinals, who have won four straight San Francisco had a three-game winning streak stopped.
Jon Jay went 4-for-4 and drove in two runs for St. Louis, while Matt Carpenter added a two-run single with the bases loaded.
Buster Posey homered for the Giants.
Westbrook (11-8) won his fourth straight decision, giving up seven hits and two runs. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. Westbrook has gone at least six innings in his last 11 starts.
But the game started off on the wrong foot for Westbrook, who quickly shook off the early blow to post four successive scoreless innings.
“I made a mistake to the first hitter and then after that I settled in,” Westbrook said. “I threw the game I think I’m capable of throwing.”
Westbrook began the four-game run allowing three hits over seven innings in a 12-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on July 21.
He continued to roll on Monday giving up one run and five hits over his final five innings.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was particularly impressed with Westbrook’s ability to bounce back from the early home run.
“You never know when you start the game with a leadoff (homer) like that,” Matheny said. “He was able to stay in there and find that sinker. He did a great job.”
Cain set the side down in order in the first and retired seven straight batters between the second and fourth innings. But he struggled in the sixth as St. Louis broke the game open with a three-run outburst.
Still, Bochy felt Cain threw better than his numbers show
“He was OK, they just did a great job of hitting him,” Bochy said. “I thought he had good stuff. That’s a good hitting ball club. They’re not at the top offensively for no reason.”
Jay paced a 12-hit attack with his second four-hit game of the season. He also went 4-for-4 in a 7-0 win over the Cubs on July 22.
“Today I was able to get some hits and we got a big win,” Jay said. “We’ve got to keep it going. We’ve got a short amount of games left and some ground to make to up. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to be all right.”
With the win, St. Louis moved within six games of first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central.
The Cardinals scored three times in the sixth to break a 2-all tie.
Matt Holliday doubled and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by David Freese. Yadier Molina and Jay followed with singles and Cain walked Rafael Furcal to load the bases for Carpenter, who drove a two-strike pitch to left field.
The Cardinals added three runs in the seventh to go up 8-2. Jay’s two-run single was the key hit.
Beltran, who leads the NL with 78 RBIs, hit the first pitch of the second inning 418 feet to tie it at 1. Four batters later, Furcal broke out of an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI single
Pagan’s first-inning homer was his seventh of the season. Posey tied it at 2-all with his 17th homer in the sixth.
NOTES: Molina extended his hitting streak to a season-long 10 games as did Posey. ... St. Louis INF Daniel Descalso hit in the leadoff spot for just the sixth time this season. ... Holliday has seven homers and 21 RBIs in his last 23 home games. ... Lance Lynn (13-4, 3.40) faces Giants LHP Barry Zito (8-8, 4.27) in the second game of the four-game series Tuesday. ... The Giants have picked up LHP Jose Mijares from Kansas City on waivers. They will announce a roster move in the next two days.