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Cain is first perfecto, but Giants know no-nos

Cain is first perfecto, but Giants know no-nos
The View Full Game Coverage Giants span the history books of Major League Baseball. However, it wasn't until their 130th season that the franchise had its first perfect game, the 22nd in MLB history and the second of the 2012 season.

Matt Cain's 14-strikeout perfect effort in a 10-0 win over the Astros on Wednesday night will make June 13, 2012, an indelible mark in the club's and MLB's history books -- 54 years and five no-hitters after the team moved from New York to San Francisco. Cain's perfect game extends a line of San Francisco pitchers, including a pair of Hall of Famers, who posted no-hit efforts and etched their spot in San Francisco lore.

Before Cain carved out his gem, it was Jonathan Sanchez who came within one misplayed ball by former Giants third baseman Juan Uribe of owning the club's first perfecto. On July 10, 2009, Sanchez retired the first 22 Padres batters he faced before Chase Headley's infield chopper was bobbled, erasing perfection but leaving the no-hitter intact. Sanchez went on to retire the final five batters en route to an almost equally dominant performance as Cain -- 11 strikeouts, zero walks -- to register the first Giants no-hitter since Sept. 29, 1976.

It was the third-to-last game of the regular season when John Montefusco no-hit the Braves in '76. Like Cain, Montefusco was the beneficiary of plenty of early run support -- an 8-0 lead by the sixth inning -- which helped him cruise through a performance in which he struck out four and walked just one. It was the Giants' final win of the season.

Montefusco's no-hitter came approximately 13 months after the third no-hitter in San Francisco history -- Aug. 24, 1975. That day, it was Ed Halicki who highlighted a rather pedestrian year by no-hitting the Mets in Candlestick Park. Halicki fanned 10 batters, walked two and rarely faced a threat as the Giants posted two runs in the first inning, two in the fifth and two in the seventh to give the right-hander all the support he needed. Halicki went on to finish the year with a 9-13 record and 3.49 ERA, with 153 strikeouts.

Some no-hitters feature games that are a bit closer, and that's exactly what Gaylord Perry got on Sept. 17, 1968. The Hall of Famer, then in his seventh season with the Giants, no-hit the eventual National League-pennant-winning Cardinals behind a nine-strikeout, two-walk performance. While Perry kept the Cardinals off the board, the Giants merely scratched out one first-inning run and only four hits against another Hall of Famer, Bob Gibson.

Giants no-hitters
Matt Cain threw the 14th no-hitter in Giants history Wednesday, but he was the first one in franchise history to throw a perfect game.
Pitcher Date Opponent Score
Amos Russie July 31, 1891 Brooklyn 6-0
Christy Mathewson July 15, 1901 St. Louis 5-0
Christy Mathewson June 13, 1905 Chicago 1-0
Hooks Wiltse July 4, 1908 Philadelphia 1-0
Jeff Tesreau Sept. 6, 1912 Philadelphia 3-0
Rube Marquard April 15, 1915 Brooklyn 2-0
Jesse Barnes May 7, 1922 Philadelphia 6-0
Carl Hubbell May 8, 1929 Pittsburgh 11-0
Juan Marichal June 15, 1963 Houston 1-0
Gaylord Perry Sept. 17, 1968 St. Louis 1-0
Ed Halicki Aug. 24, 1975 New York 6-0
John Montefusco Sept. 29, 1976 Atlanta 9-0
Jonathan Sanchez July 10, 2009 San Diego 8-0
Matt Cain June 13, 2012 Houston 10-0

Five years earlier, and almost 49 years to the day before Cain's perfecto, Juan Marichal set the pace for no-hitters in the Bay Area. The 1983 Hall of Fame inductee was 26 years old when, behind his famous high leg kick, he twirled a no-no while striking out five and walking two against the Houston Colt 45s on June 15, 1963.

Like Perry's no-hitter, Marichal's success came behind just one run of support. However, unlike Perry, Marichal had to last until the eighth inning before the Giants scratched out their lone run via a Chuck Hiller RBI single. Perhaps the no-hitter was a sign of things to come for Marichal, who ended up leading the NL in victories in 1963, with a 25-8 record, 2.41 ERA and Major League-best 321 1/3 innings pitched.

The Giants weren't strangers to no-hitters before moving West, having collected eight no-hitters while calling New York home, including one that came 107 years ago to the day of Cain's perfect game, when Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson no-hit the Cubs on June 13, 1905 -- nearly four years after throwing his first no-hitter on July 15, 1901, against the Cardinals. The Giants' no-hit era in New York was bookended by a pair of Hall of Famers -- Amos Rusie's no-no on July 31, 1891, for the first in franchise history, and Carl Hubbell, who threw the last New York Giants no-hitter on May 8, 1929, against the Pirates.

Jon Star is a reporter for

San Francisco Giants