SAN FRANCISCO -- Each time Matt Cain has taken the mound against San Diego this season, the game has been meaningful.
He has pitched well every outing -- and his latest gem helped the Giants gain ground on their division rival in the wild card race.
Cain carried a no-hit bid into the sixth on the way to his fourth straight victory, and San Francisco pulled within 2½ games of the NL wild-card leading Padres with a 4-0 win Friday night.
"Every time we play those guys, it's always a big deal," Cain said. "It's always going to be in this division."
Pedro Feliz and Omar Vizquel each singled in a run and Shea Hillenbrand added an RBI groundout for San Francisco, which pulled within 2½ games of the Padres in the wild card race and snapped San Diego's five-game winning streak.
The Giants, in third place behind the Padres and Philadelphia Phillies, won for the fifth time in six games and ninth in 13 -- getting yet another gem from Cain (12-9).
He won his fourth straight decision and third consecutive start. He has allowed only one earned run over his last five starts and has never lost to San Diego in five career outings.
The rookie right-hander did not allow a hit until Brian Giles singled to right with one out in the sixth, which ended Cain's chance to become the second rookie in three days to throw a no-hitter. Florida's Anibal Sanchez pitched the first one in 2½ years in the Marlins' 2-0 win over Arizona on Wednesday.
Manager Felipe Alou wasn't going to stick with Cain even if he had a no-hitter -- the skipper didn't dare risk injury to his star pitcher's arm in the final month.
"He's going to throw a no-hitter that guy, maybe more than one," Alou said.
Cain received a warm ovation after giving up his only hit, then went on to retire the final five batters he faced before leaving after seven innings and 119 pitches. He struck out five and walked three on a cool night in the Bay Area when the first-pitch temperature read 59 degrees.
"It was one of the best games pitched against us," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "He dominated us tonight. He had great stuff. We couldn't do anything against him. He had overpowering stuff."
"Starting pitching sets the tone, and Matt was outstanding tonight," Stanton said.
Moises Alou added a solo home run in the eighth, his 17th. Alou also tripled to start the second, giving the Giants 44 total and their most since also getting 44 in 2000. Barry Bonds went 0-for-3 with a walk, his 108th.
"Mo Alou, wow, still hitting home runs," joked Felipe Alou, his father. "We had some big hits today."
The Padres, who had won 12 of 16 games since Aug. 20, began a key 10-game road trip -- and general manager Kevin Towers believes his team needs to go .500 during this stretch.
Jake Peavy (8-14), pitching with an injured fourth toe on his left foot, allowed seven hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings, struck out two and walked three. He lost for the third time in five starts.
"To basically throw one pitch to a big league club, he's got to have great stuff," Peavy said of Cain. "I get Cy Young about every time out. He's got my vote for Cy Young."
Cain beat Peavy and the Padres 8-2 in San Francisco on July 21, coming within one out of a five-hit shutout. He also won in San Diego on Aug. 17.
"All of those have been huge," Cain said.
The Padres have dropped five straight and 10 of 11 to the Giants and trail the season series 11-6 after winning five of the first six meetings. The teams don't play again after this weekend.
"This time of year, every series is crucial for us," Towers said. "From more of a confidence standpoint, we haven't played too well against these guys. We need to turn that around."
- Alou had his first triple since Sept. 25, 2005, at Colorado.
- The Padres are batting .133 against Cain, who is 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA against them.
- Chris Mullin, the Golden State Warriors' executive vice president of basketball operations, sat in the front row near the Giants' dugout -- the usual seat of San Francisco owner Peter Magowan.