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Cain, relievers shut down Alley Cats on five hits

May 23, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Matt Cain proved he was more than able Thursday.

The 18-year-old was more than prepared to pass the test presented by the Charleston (W.Va.) Alley Cats, even handling a pop quiz along the way.

Cain, the San Francisco Giants' No. 1 pick in the 2002 amateur draft, allowed two hits and struck out seven in six innings as the Suns moved past the .500 mark with a 4-0 victory.

"He's comfortable out there now," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "Steamer (Suns pitching coach Bob Stanley) has done a good job. He's a hard-throwing kid who has the concept of how to pitch. It's a good thing to watch."

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Cain was in total control, allowing only an infield hit by Maikel Jova through the first three innings. Charleston tried to get the right hander out of his zone in the fourth to no avail.

Justin Owens drew a one-out walk and took third on Jova's single to left.

"When the guy got to third, I tried to get the ground ball to get the double play," Cain said.

It didn't work out that way, but it didn't matter.

Cain got Raul Tablado to hit a foul popup to catcher Steve Holm before ending the threat emphatically with a strikeout of Scott Dragicevich.

"I wanted the double play, but I got the popup, so that was fine," Cain said. "I'm getting comfortable and feel a lot better about getting the ball down. And when I'm not getting it down, I know what to do to fix it. I was able to get the ball down the whole game."

The Suns (23-22) rewarded Cain with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Karl Jernigan led off with a walk from Charleston starter Brandon League and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Singles by Derin McMains and Carlos Sosa resulted in a 1-0 lead.

After Travis Ishikawa hit into a double play to move McMains to third, Steve Holm drew a walk to put runners at the corners. Holm broke for second to ignite a double steal with McMains.

"We continue to get good pitching, but we used the bats and hit well today and we did a good job running the bases and fielding the ball ... all things we have to do," Ramsey said. "To get the first run was big, but the second was bigger."

Cain all but nailed the game shut by striking out the side in the fifth.

"Those runs were a big plus for me," he said. "The one big thing for me was I wanted to make them a momentum stopper for them and I wanted to go out and hang another zero."

Josh Habel shut out Charleston in the seventh and eighth innings before the Suns added two insurance runs.

Sosa reached on an infield single and beat the throw home on Ishikawa's double down the left field line off reliever Felix Romero. Holm followed with a single up the middle off the first pitch for the 4-0 lead.

Matt Palmer (0.37 ERA) allowed a leadoff triple to Jova in the ninth before retiring the next three Alley Cats to preserve the shutout.

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