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SF@OAK: Cain tosses seven impressive frames vs. A's

June has been kind to Matt Cain.

The Giants right-hander has put together a 1.25 ERA on his way to four wins in five starts while averaging seven-plus innings and over eight strikeouts per outing. Oh, and there was also his performance June 13 against Houston, when he threw the first perfect game in the organization's history.

Perhaps this all should have been expected, seeing as how Cain closed May with four wins in as many starts. All in all, that is eight wins in his last nine outings, which has gone a long way in making Cain a favorite to start this year's All-Star Game for the National League team in Kansas City.

Cain (9-2) would have entered Friday's game against Cincinnati looking for his 10th straight win had the San Francisco bullpen not allowed a walk-off homer to Oakland in his most recent outing, when he gave up just one run through seven innings. Cain earned a no-decision for that effort. He hasn't lost since May 1.

"Today's definitely tough," Cain said after that loss to the A's. "It's definitely not a good feeling, but we have to put it past ourselves and worry about tomorrow."

To kick-start a new personal winning streak, Cain will have to pitch well against a Cincinnati team that currently sits atop the NL Central standings. The Reds were one-hit by Madison Bumgarner in a 5-0 loss in Thursday's opener -- the Giants' club-record fourth straight shutout -- but they did take two out of three from Milwaukee in their previous series.

Second baseman Brandon Phillips played a prominent role against the Brewers, going 4-for-9 with two RBIs and a run. He was scratched from the lineup before Thursday's game, though, a day after Aramis Ramirez accidentally hit him in the head during a steal attempt in the third inning.

"I just felt kind of light after that, and I started seeing stars and stuff," said Phillips, who felt like he was going to throw up and had the medical staff examine him in the clubhouse after he left the game in the sixth. "I started feeling like I was off balance a little bit."

It is unclear when Phillips will return to Cincinnati's lineup. He ranks second among NL second basemen in All-Star balloting, and has hit .316 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in June.

"If you lose any kind of vision or blink out for a second, you can get hit upside the head with a 95 [mph pitch]," Reds manager Dusty Baker said Thursday. "He has to feel better to play. We've got Cain tomorrow, who throws about a thousand [mph]."

Reds: Leake an asset in many ways
Mike Leake (2-5) will get the ball for the Reds on Friday, having earned a no-decision in each of his last four starts. During that stretch, the righty has compiled a 3.42 ERA and thrown at least seven innings three times. His last win came on June 1 in Houston, when he allowed one run in seven innings of work.

The mound, however, is not the only area where Leake contributes for Cincinnati. The pitcher hits like few others in baseball. He is batting .333 (8-for-24) with three runs, a double and an RBI in the batter's box this season. Wade Miley of Arizona and the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg are the only two pitchers to post higher averages over a comparable number of at-bats.

Giants: Cabrera continuing to produce
After shutting out opponents in four consecutive games, San Francisco vaulted itself to sole possession of first place in the NL West. The Giants have received a big boost from three-hole hitter Melky Cabrera, whose .355 average is the third highest in baseball.

Against the Reds on Thursday, Cabrera went 2-for-2 with a run and two walks. In his only career career plate appearance against Leake, Cabrera recorded a single.

Worth noting
• In April, Cincinnati won two of three games against the Giants at home. Cain was the losing pitcher in a 9-2 Reds victory on April 24.

• San Francisco owns a 15-7 record against the NL Central this season. Facing the NL West, the Reds are 4-3. They haven't yet played Los Angeles, Arizona or San Diego. Comments