SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco catcher Bengie Molina made a sliding catch of Eric Byrnes’ foul ball next to the backstop to end another scoreless inning. Byrnes threw his helmet down and kicked his bat across the AT&T Park grass, and frustration bubbled in the Diamondbacks clubhouse after another afternoon without hits.
This time, Matt Cain was nearly untouchable. The Giants’ phenom pitched a three-hitter in a 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks to complete a three-game sweep by the Giants and send Arizona back home after losing four straight.
The Diamondbacks are .500 for the first time since winning April 5 at Washington. Though they’ve played three more games than the Giants, Arizona went from second place to fourth in the National League West during the five-game road trip.
It took 1 hour, 56 minutes for Cain to dispatch the DBacks, similar to what Barry Zito did on Saturday. Cain, however, possesses a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and a biting curveball that never let the Diamondbacks (10-10) pay for a mistake.
“We ran into two guys who threw the (heck) out of the ball,” Byrnes said.
Byrnes opened the game with a solid single to left. When he opened the ninth with a single, he was still the only DBack with a hit.
Alberto Callaspo followed with a single to move Byrnes to third, but .360-hitting Orlando Hudson grounded into a double play. Byrnes scored but the rally was effectively squashed.
It felt like more of the same for the visitors:
• The D-Backs have gone 20 consecutive innings without an extra base hit, dating back to the seventh inning of Friday night’s game.
• Pedro Feliz caught a Stephen Drew foul pop over the rail across from third base.
• After Hudson’s double play in the ninth, Chad Tracy walked, but Ray Durham’s diving stab robbed Tony Clark of a hit.
• The D-Backs drew four walks, but hit into three double plays.
Arizona wasn’t making excuses for its offense, but David Wells, Jake Peavy, Barry Zito and Cain are a formidable foursome.
“We knew going into the season starting pitching was going to be a dominant force in this division and so far it has been,” D-Backs manager Bob Melvin said.
Starter Yusmeiro Petit made two mistakes, one to Feliz, one to Barry Bonds, but it was enough for the Giants (9-8) to sweep their second consecutive series.
Feliz hit a solo shot to left-center to lead off the third inning. Bonds hit career home run No. 740 in the fourth over the Levi’s Landing sign in right. D-Backs right fielder Carlos Quentin didn’t move, just turned and watched.
Petit was flawless the rest of the way, walking none with five strikeouts. Brandon Medders came in to pitch a scoreless ninth.
But the D-Backs had too many scoreless innings of their own the past five games, and left the Bay wondering if the end of their swinging swoon is in sight.
“A lot of guys are having to do their homework on the fly,” Clark said. “Early on we’re having to do a lot of homework. I like to think we’ll get better sooner or later.”