SAN FRANCISCO -- The expected pitchers' duel from World Series Game 1 arrived in Game 2 -- and the night's expected rain didn't arrive at all -- as the Giants took a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Rangers, thanks to a virtuoso performance from starting pitcher Matt Cain.
A solo home run by shortstop Edgar Renteria in the fifth inning gave the San Francisco a lead it would not relinquish; but for good measure, they added a second run in the seventh and exploded for seven more in the eighth to rout Texas in the late innings for a 9-0 victory.
The Giants, who haven't won a World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958, are now two wins away from winning their first championship since they played in New York in 1954. The Rangers have never won a World Series in their franchise's 50-year history.
"It's nice to get the first two [wins], but that's what it is," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You've got to get to this number before your next number. Now we're going in their ballpark. I'm sure they're going to have a sense of confidence. We've been road warriors, so that's what it's going to take right now."
After the matchup of Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee in Game 1 fizzled into an 11-7 slugfest, the starters in Game 2 delivered a low-scoring affair -- for seven innings.
Cain, the 26-year-old righthander born in Alabama and raised in Tennessee, pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out two. Always pitching to less acclaim than his more celebrated teammate, Lincecum, Cain has shone the brightest of all starters this postseason. He has yet to allow an earned run in his three starts, a span of 21 1/3 postseason innings.
Cain has now thrown the third-most innings in a single postseason without allowing an earned run. He is only exceeded by Christy Mathewson in 1905 and Walter Hoyt in 1921, each of whom threw 27 innings with a 0.00 ERA. He said after the game he couldn't remember having pitching so well over such a period of time.
"No, not necessarily," he said. "You know, it's been feeling good. I've been able to work ahead in the count."
Cain was in such a good groove that Bochy opted not to pinch hit for him in the bottom of the seventh despite a narrow 2-0 lead with two outs and a runner on second, seemingly a golden opportunity to extend the lead.
"Matt was throwing the ball so well," Bochy said. "I wasn't going to take him out. One-run game, it didn't matter at that point. He was pitching quite a game there, and he was still feeling strong. So there's no question he was going to hit."
San Francisco would tack on more than enough insurance in the eighth inning, thanks to an implosion by the Rangers bullpen, which set a World Series record by walking four consecutive hitters. Derek Holland walked all three batters he faced, only to be relieved by Mark Lowe, who walked one and then gave up a two-run single to Renteria. Aaron Rowand slugged a pinch-hit, two-RBI triple in the inning as well.
Texas starter C.J. Wilson delivered a quality start of six innings and two runs allowed but couldn't match Cain. Wilson left the game in the seventh after suffering a recurrence of a blister on his left pitching hand.
Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler nearly hit his own solo home run in the top of the fifth inning, but his ball caromed off the top of the left-centerfield wall and bounced back into play. The winds at AT&T Park had blown strongly toward the outfield in the early and late innings but happened to be mostly still in the middle innings. Cain got the next three hitters in order to strand Kinsler on the basepaths.
"I thought it was a home run, so I cashed it in as one run," Cain said. "Then I saw that Torres had thrown it in and [Kinsler] was standing on second. From there I just said, Hey, I've got to try to keep that guy there and we'll just get the next guy, see if we can get the next guy out and see how it works out."
The Rangers' top three hitters -- Michael Young, ALCS MVP Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz -- each have just one hit in two World Series games, going a combined 3-for-25 with a double and two RBIs.
"I think that more or less has to do with the pitching we've been facing," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "You know, those guys were good, especially Cain tonight. We had some opportunities early in the ballgame to put some runs on the board, and we had the right people up there, and he made his pitches."
Despite his reputation as a postseason hero -- Renteria hit the game-winning RBI single for the Marlins to beat the Indians in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series -- his overall body of work in the postseason is a bit lacking. Entering Wednesday he had played 62 career playoff games and had batted just .241 in 228 at bats with just one home run. But making Renteria's performance all the more impressive in Game 2 is that he is playing with a torn left biceps muscle. His three RBIs were a single-game postseason personal best.
"I couldn't be happier for Edgar," Bochy said. "It's been a tough year for him. The ups and downs, the injuries, he'd come back and reinjure something else. He's a leader in that clubhouse."
Third baseman Juan Uribe, who hit a three-run homer in Game 1, delivered the other run for the Giants, singling home Cody Ross in the seventh. Uribe and Renteria have settled into starting role for manager Bruce Bochy on the left side of the infield, after Bochy used five starting combinations of shortstops and third basemen I the six games of the National League Championship Series.
After the teams travel to Texas on Friday, the Rangers will start Colby Lewis against the Giants' Jonathan Sanchez in Saturday's Game 3.
"The challenge is we have to go home, and we have to get a win," Washington said. "Colby Lewis has been outstanding for us and we're certainly confident when we get back to Texas we can turn this thing around. Just as they won two games here in San Francisco we can get back to Texas and do the same thing."