It's official: Matt Cain will start Game 1 of NLDS

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It's official: Matt Cain will start Game 1 of NLDS

LOS ANGELES -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn't announce Matt Cain as his Game 1 starter so much as casually drop it in conversation with beat reporters Monday afternoon.

Nevertheless, the obvious is now official: Cain will take the ball and be charged with setting the tone for the NL West champions in a division series opener, almost certainly to be held Saturday at AT&T Park.

"It's fair to say he's the No.1 guy right now," Bochy said of Cain, who will make his 32nd and final regular-season start Monday night at Dodger Stadium. "The way he's thrown the ball all year, he started the All-Star Game ... he's been really consistent all season."

And, for one night on June 13, he was perfect. He became the 22nd major leaguer -- and the first Giant in the franchise's 129-year history -- to throw a perfect game.

Cain (16-5, 2.77) has a chance to become the club's first 17-game winner since Tim Lincecum won 18 in 2008. He also could join Lincecum and Jason Schmidt as the only Giants starting pitchers (minimum 10 decisions) to post a winning percentage of at least .770 in a season. He's also nine strikeouts away from reaching 200 for the first time in his career.

Monday's start against the Dodgers will be Cain's final tune-up before the postseason but he already looks locked in, having posted a 6-0 record and 2.18 ERA over his last nine starts.

The rest of the Giants' playoff rotation is less settled, although Bochy already has a Game 2 starter in mind. It'll be a huge surprise if it's anyone other than Madison Bumgarner. The manager expected to make that decision public within 48 hours.

And after that? Bochy acknowledged the possibility of remaining TBA on his starters for Game 3 and beyond, saying he could use a starter for an inning of relief in Game 1.

"We're set up to go any way," Bochy said.

The Giants also would like to reserve the right to alter his pitching plans depending on the outcome of the first two games.

For now, Bochy agreed that it's a good thing the Giants are facing a Dodgers team that is still holding on to thin playoff hopes. It's the first time the Giants have faced a contending team with some frontline pitchers in almost a month.

"This series is a big series," Bochy said. "I'd rather play a series like this with fans that are into it. This series means a lot. It's going to be loud."

BAGGARLY: Giants-Dodgers -- What to watch for

As a reminder, the Giants can eliminate the Dodgers with a victory combined with a Cardinals win.

Bochy planned to play his starters regardless of the playoff picture in this series, and he acknowledged his starting nine could be a preview of his postseason lineup. He's got Xavier Nady in left field against a right-handed pitcher.

"Really, the only difference would be (Gregor) Blanco or Nady," Bochy said.

What about vs. a left-hander? Would Brandon Crawford be his shortstop?

"I'm not going to answer that right now," said Bochy, who paused. "Good chance of it, though."

The Giants will have a workout Thursday afternoon at AT&T Park but it'll be a light session with no simulated game activity planned.

"I'd be surprised if it goes more than an hour," Bochy said.

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pittsburgh Pirates kept clearing the fences, and the San Francisco Giants were left arguing plate umpire Chris Conroy's tough strike zone.

Even Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle understood the beef.

Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs, Gerrit Cole won for the fifth time in six starts, and the Pirates beat San Francisco 10-3 on Monday night.

"I think there was some frustration really all night," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who watched most of the game from his office after an ejection in the second. "I don't think he had a real good night, to be honest, as far as consistency, but that really had nothing to do with what happened tonight. We gave up three-run homers."

Jordy Mercer added a three-run shot of his own in the eighth to further back Cole (8-7), 5-1 in his last eight starts. That lone defeat came June 30 as San Francisco swept the Pirates at Pittsburgh from June 30-July 2 - the Giants' first in the series since 2009.

This time, Pittsburgh immediately jumped on San Francisco starter Matt Cain (3-9), who matched the longest losing streak of his career at eight games - also done from July 28, 2015-May 10, 2016.

Bochy was tossed by Conroy for arguing balls and strikes in support of Cain moments after McCutchen connected, the skipper's second time being tossed this year. San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti then got tossed in the ninth.

"It was a tough zone," Hurdle said. "They lost two people on their side thrown out of the game."

Cole allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, struck out four and walked four.

He improved to 4-1 in six career starts against San Francisco. The Pirates won their seventh straight game at AT&T Park and ninth in 10, including sweeps both last year and in 2015.

Buster Posey hit a pair of RBI singles in San Francisco's fourth loss in five games.

McCutchen hit his 18th homer as the Pirates cleared the fences in San Francisco for a sixth straight game. His RBI groundout in the first started things off for a Pittsburgh club that had lost back-to-back games on the heels of a season-best, six-game winning streak, including a 13-3 flop in the finale against the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field.

Josh Bell and Starling Marte each doubled home a run and Josh Harrison added an RBI single.

"This offense is good, we've shown that," McCutchen said.

Cain matched his second-shortest outing of the year at four innings and is winless in his last 11 starts, the longest by a Giants pitcher since the right-hander went 15 outings without a victory during his previous eight-game skid.

CHEERS TO THE HOME RUN KING:
Former slugger Barry Bonds, who played for both teams, received a greeting on the scoreboard for his 53rd birthday but the career home run king wasn't in the stands.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco, who strained his left hamstring Friday at Colorado and landed on the 10-day disabled list, tested his leg with some straightaway running and was going to do some riding on the stationary bike with the hopes he can hit in the cage soon. Hurdle said he did witness Polanco scurry across a street to avoid being hit by a car, then acknowledged it wasn't that close a call. ... With an off day Thursday at San Diego, the starters will get an extra day of rest.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto played catch and said the trouble spots on three of his pitching fingers are greatly improved. He said they aren't true blisters. The plan is for him to play catch again Tuesday and perhaps throw off the mound Wednesday if all continues to go well. ... Closer Mark Melancon had the day off as he recovers from a second DL stint with a strained forearm. He will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, Bochy said, and face hitters this weekend in Los Angeles if ready.

UP NEXT:
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (6-3, 3.08 ERA) is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since returning from the DL on June 12, just more than a month after surgery for testicular cancer. He seeks his first decision against the Giants in two starts.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 3.57) tries again for his first victory of 2017 in his third outing back from missing nearly three months following a dirt bike accident April 20 in Colorado.

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy's night didn't last very long.

The Giants manager was ejected in the top of the second inning Monday after arguing with the home plate umpire.

The argument came after a three-run homer by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Bochy appeared to be voicing frustrating with the strike zone.

Bochy came out to argue with Chris Conroy and the home plate umpire threw him out almost immediately.

McCutchen's home run put the Pirates up 6-0 in the second inning.