Matt Cain hasn't earned a winning decision since July, but at least he has something significantly positive to feel good about.
Following his best outing of 2016, the right-hander can help the visiting San Francisco Giants complete a four-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks with their fifth consecutive victory Sunday.
Off to the worst start of an otherwise solid career, Cain (0-5, 6.69 ERA) is 0-8 with a 6.72 ERA in 16 starts since winning at San Diego on July 22. For the first time in 20 starts, however, he completed at least seven innings Tuesday, going eight and yielding two runs while striking out seven without a walk in a 4-0 loss to Toronto.
"He's been throwing the ball well on the side and he carried that into the game," manager Bruce Bochy said. "This should do a lot for him. Eight solid innings. It's a shame we couldn't get some runs for him."
Usually his toughest critic, Cain continues to find ways to improve but was also pleased with his overall progress.
"I felt good (in) a lot of other games, too," Cain told MLB's official website. "(On Tuesday) we did a good job of keeping those mistakes to a minimum.
"This is something to try to build off of and carry into the next one."
The Giants (21-18) also failed to support Cain on April 19, when he gave up three runs, five hits and walked four in 4 2/3 innings of a 3-0 defeat.
San Francisco has averaged 4.3 runs during a season-high four-game win streak that followed a three-game skid in which it totaled one. Denard Span had four hits and Buster Posey delivered a two-run tiebreaking double in the ninth of Saturday's 5-3 victory.
Though the Giants failed to hold a two-run advantage, they regrouped to put themselves in position to return the favor after the Diamondbacks (17-22) swept a four-game set at AT&T Park last month.
Span is 8 for 13 in this series and batting .313 on the road this season. He has two hits and two walks in five plate appearances against Rubby De La Rosa (4-4, 3.93).
For the third time in his last four starts, the right-hander allowed one or no runs Tuesday with one over 7 1/3 innings of a 5-1 victory at Colorado. De La Rosa, who's made three appearances out of the bullpen, is taking a reliever's approach to his starts.
"I think right now that every inning ... I'm coming in from the bullpen," De La Rosa said. "Go in there and try to get three hitters and (sit) back down."
He pitched a scoreless frame of relief at San Francisco on April 18, and did not allow a run over his last 16 1/3 innings while going 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA as a starter against them in 2015.
Teammate Paul Goldschmidt is 1 for 12 in the series and 1 for 6 with three strikeouts against Cain since 2014.
San Francisco could activate reliever George Kantos (elbow), who has been on the disabled list since April 19. He had a 1.59 ERA in eight appearances prior to the injury.