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PHI@SF: Cain pitches nine scoreless innings

It would be difficult for Matt Cain to top his last two starts, but for Mat Latos, improvement is a much more attainable goal.

The two right-handers will clash Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park when Cain's Giants and Latos' Reds meet for the first time this season, in the opener of a three-game series.

Cain engaged in an epic duel with the Phillies' Cliff Lee on Wednesday in San Francisco, tossing nine shutout innings and holding Philadelphia to two hits and one walk. Lee threw 10 shutout frames of his own, leaving Cain with a no-decision in a game the Giants won in 11 innings.

Cain (1-0, 1.88 ERA) limited the Pirates to one hit and no walks while striking out 11 in his previous outing, giving him 18 straight scoreless innings.

"I don't know if I've ever seen back-to-back games thrown so well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

After the Giants swept a doubleheader on Monday against the Mets following Sunday's rainout, another long outing by Cain would be highly beneficial.

The Reds, on the other hand, were off on Monday and now hand the ball to Latos, who endured one of the roughest outings of his career on Wednesday in St. Louis. The Cardinals jumped on him for five runs in the first two innings, and Latos eventually tied a career high with eight earned runs allowed in 5 2/3 frames. His only other eight-run start was Sept. 17, 2010, also against St. Louis.

"It wasn't really about not hitting my spots. It was more not trusting my stuff," Latos said. "I was not trusting my stuff and not just rearing back and letting it go. I was trying to be too fine and too perfect."

The Reds acquired Latos in an offseason trade with the Padres, but thus far he is winless, has an 8.22 ERA and has not completed six innings in any of his three starts.

Reds: Home at last
• A 10-game road trip ended on a high note for the Reds with their win over the Cubs on Sunday, but the team still compiled a 4-6 record during their tour of Washington, St. Louis and Chicago.

The club is glad to be headed home for a nine-game stand against the Giants, Astros and Cubs. Cincinnati is 3-3 so far on its home turf.

"It's going to be a tough series, because you know the Giants can pitch," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose team will face Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong after Cain. "So we'll enjoy [Monday]. Hopefully the weather will play better to us when we get home.

"We know we've got a tough opponent coming in because they're trying to stay in it. They have a doubleheader [Monday], so maybe we might catch a break and their bullpen might be a little tired."

• Baker chose to leave Brandon Phillips out of Sunday's lineup to give the second baseman two days to rest and receive treatment on his left hamstring. Since cramping in the muscle caused him to miss five games, Phillips is batting .227 (5-for-22) with one home run.

Giants: Posey on point
• Catcher Buster Posey has hit safely in 10 of his 13 games and has been on a tear over his last five contests. In that span, he is batting .500 (12-for-24) with four multihit efforts.

• Nine of San Francisco's first 16 games have been decided by two runs or fewer, and seven have been decided by one run. Bochy says the close games are a function of his roster.

"That's the way we've been doing this for three years now. We're accustomed to this," he said. "When you don't score lots of runs like we have -- and like we did last year -- and when you have the pitching we have, you're going to play a lot of close games. And it's a good experience for the guys."

• Pablo Sandoval has tied Willie Mays with the longest hitting streak to start the season (16 games) in San Francisco history. Mays' streak came during the 1960 season.

Worth noting
• Current Giants have come to the plate 118 times against Latos, and hit .236 with a .276 on-base percentage and a .318 slugging percentage, for an OPS of .594.

• The Reds swept the Giants in a three-game series at Great American Ball Park last season, and beat them five of seven times overall.

• The Reds will honor the University of Kentucky's national champion men's basketball team prior to Tuesday's game. Comments