SAN FRANCISCO - Getting All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt up in a key spot with runners in scoring position is usually just what Arizona wants against the San Francisco Giants.
It just hasn't paid off so far this weekend for the Diamondbacks.
Goldschmidt failed to deliver for a second straight night with the bases loaded and Arizona struggled once again at the plate, losing their second straight game out of the All-Star break against San Francisco, 4-3 on Saturday.
"I don't think they're exploiting anything," manager Kirk Gibson said. "They're pitching him good. Goldy's been carrying us all year. It's part of the game, those things happen. They're fortunate to get through him. He's got to just suck it up tomorrow and come back. It'd be nice if somebody else would pick him up."
Goldschmidt is just 1-for-9 this series, including those two key at-bats with the bases loaded. He grounded out in the eighth inning against Santiago Casilla in a 2-0 loss Friday night and grounded out again in the fifth Saturday against Matt Cain.
Goldschmidt is usually a San Francisco nemesis with his eight homers and 28 RBIs the most by any Giants opponent the past three seasons.
"He's a great hitter. He does a lot of damage," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Those guys in the heart of the order are dangerous. Hopefully our pitchers execute and find a way to get it done. So far they've done a pretty good job."
Cain (6-6) allowed two runs in five-plus innings to bounce back from two rough outings and earn his first win in more than a month. Pablo Sandoval hit an RBI double in the first off Wade Miley (6-8) and Buster Posey added a two-run homer off Josh Collmenter to help the Giants move within 4 1/2 games of first-place Arizona in the NL West.
With back-to-back losses out of the break, the Diamondbacks lead the Los Angeles Dodgers by a half-game in the division.
"This division, nobody seems to want to run away with it," Arizona outfielder Cody Ross said. "It's there for the taking. As bad as we've been playing, we're still a half game up."
Cain was coming off two disastrous starts before the All-Star break. He gave up eight runs and was knocked out in the third inning of a loss to the Dodgers on July 5 and retired only two batters and gave up three runs to the Mets five days later in his shortest career start.
But Cain looked sharp early, striking out two batters in the first. Cain didn't allow a run until the fifth when shortstop Tony Abreu threw the ball into the stands behind first while trying to complete a potential inning-ending double play. Cain escaped further damage when he got Goldschmidt to ground out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
"You go out there and you can't even make it through an inning, that's never any fun," Cain said. "But you kind of have to put it past you. As a starter, that's beaten into you that you want to go out and throw seven innings. You feel like you let your guys down. That's the biggest thing. You feel like you put your team in a rut."
Cain was replaced after allowing back-to-back singles to Aaron Hill and Miguel Montero to open the sixth. Martin Prado followed with an RBI single off George Kontos to cut San Francisco's lead to 4-2.
Kontos, Jeremy Affeldt and Jose Mijares each retired a batter to escape the inning with no further damage on the scoreboard. But Affeldt left the game with a strained left groin when he came up lame on a pitch to pinch-hitter A.J. Pollock. Affeldt underwent an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
San Francisco used seven relievers to get through the final four innings Sergio Romo pitched the ninth for his 23rd save in 26 chances. Romo allowed a two-out RBI single to Prado, ending a streak of 29 consecutive scoreless outings against Arizona before striking out Ross to end it.
"That's the kind of games we've played all year," Goldschmidt said. "We've played a lot of one-run games, two-run games. Yesterday we didn't really have that many opportunities. Tonight we had a lot more. Give them credit. They got good pitching and they made good pitches they needed to make. Hopefully we come out tomorrow and get a win."