SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday afternoon began in a wave of nostalgia and celebration for the Giants, as the members of the 2012 team -- meaning the majority of the current club, plus Aubrey Huff -- received their World Series rings. It ended on an uplifting note, too, with Brandon Belt collecting his first hit of the season, Nick Noonan his first as a big-leaguer and Guillermo Quiroz his first as a Giant.
Everything in between for the Giants was pretty forgettable.
The Cardinals racked up 14 runs on 15 hits and tagged Matt Cain for nine runs in a fourth inning that would not end. Cain -- staff ace, owner of a perfect game and nine-figure contract, fresh off a start in which he threw six scoreless innings against the Dodgers on opening day -- matched his career high for runs allowed and became the second starter in franchise history (and first since 1902) to allow a nine-spot in one inning.
"It's baseball," said outfielder Hunter Pence. "You see a lot of stuff happen the longer you play."
It was particularly surprising on this day given that Cain retired the first nine hitters he faced on 30 pitches. The wheels came off in the fourth, as he gave up six singles, a double, two walks, and got two outs on a sacrifice fly and failed sacrifice bunt.
"A lot of stuff just wasn't as sharp as it was in the first three innings," Cain said. "And it just kind of fell apart."
Manager Bruce Bochy said he wanted to give Cain a chance to finish the inning and possibly go a couple more, given how well he was throwing early.
"He just started to get the ball up a little bit, made a few mistakes, but that's one of those innings we just couldn't stop," Bochy said. "The game got out of hand there. But I couldn't say there was anything different that he was doing."
Bochy said he didn't feel the need to say anything to Cain after Cain came out of the game. Nor did Cain seem overly concerned about the outing.
"I just didn't feel like I threw the ball well," he said.
Cain left the Giants' clubhouse carrying his diamond-studded World Series ring, handed to him hours earlier near home plate by team CEO and President Larry Baer.
"For myself and for the rest of the guys, I wish I had done better to kind of keep the excitement going," Cain said. "It's a long season and we'll have a lot more games. But today, we'll definitely try to remember it as a good day of getting our rings and being excited about that."
* If you missed it, here's the story from earlier this afternoon on how the ring ceremony played out. A Tiffany & Co. representative later brought Bochy's ring into the press box to show media, and was immediately surrounded by reporters with camera phones, along with the more traditional TV cameras. I didn't count the diamonds, but it was sparkly.
Bochy said the feeling of the ceremony was similar to two years ago. "For the players to receive the ring that really represents what they accomplished, there's nothing like it," he said.
Pence received his first World Series ring and said he "didn't realize it was going to be as special as it was. The game does put a little bit of a damper, but I think in the long run we're going to remember the day."
That said, the ring ceremony marked the end of a long weekend with Friday's flag-raising and Saturday's MVP ceremony for Buster Posey. The Rockies arrive tomorrow, bringing a night game, and Bochy said it probably won't hurt to get back to a more normal routine.
"This is like the grand finale, the ring ceremony," Bochy said. "It's behind us, and now it's time for us to focus on this year."
* Belt snapped an 0-for-13 start to the season with his single off Joe Kelly in the ninth, but his start wasn't for lack of hitting balls hard. Belt hit two line drives that were caught Saturday and said before the game that he wasn't frustrated by the lack of results.
"Maybe a year ago I would say it's frustrating, but right now it's not," Belt said. "You keep on hitting balls hard, they're going to fall in eventually."
Bochy said that's a sign of Belt's maturing as a hitter. A year ago, Bochy said, he might have felt the need to talk with Belt to make sure he wasn't getting down.
"That's what experience does for you and confidence, taking away a little bit of the unknown of whether you can hit major-league pitching," Bochy said. "He knows he can hit, had a great spring. Unfortunately he started the season with the stomach virus, but he threw out some good at-bats (Saturday)."
* Belt's single with two outs created another at-bat for Noonan, who took advantage by lining a single back up the middle. It was his first big-league hit in his fourth at-bat, and Noonan said it was "kind of a sigh of relief."
"Anticipation kind of builds up at-bat after at-bat," he said. "To finally get the first one out of the way felt pretty good."
* The pitching probables for the three-game series against the Rockies:
Monday: LHP Jorge De La Rosa (0-0, 8.31) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (1-0, 0.00)
Tuesday: RHP Juan Nicasio (1-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (1-0, 0.00)
Wednesday: LHP Jeff Francis (1-0, 1.50) vs. LHP Barry Zito (1-0, 0.00)
Bochy said the offense still isn't clicking, but it's too early to make any big changes. So expect a similar lineup tomorrow.
* Finally, if you haven't seen the Giants' commercial parodying the famous pep talk from "Animal House," it's well worth your time. Here's a link.
-- Matt Kawahara