For Matt Cain's tough luck the last two seasons, Randy Johnson offered some tough love.
"Nobody is going to feel sorry for you in this game," Johnson said Monday. "You have to battle through it. Sometimes you have to pitch better."
Cain and Johnson threw off the mound for the first time in San Francisco's spring training camp Monday, and afterward had a clubhouse chat that started with Johnson's changeup and ended with Johnson's insights on keeping a strong mental approach throughout an appearance.
"That's how you get those close games, how you keep those leads, having the mental side," Cain said.
Cain, 24, has struggled to a 15-30 record over the last two seasons despite a 3.71 ERA in that period, and it is not difficult to identify the culprit.
Cain received 3.14 runs of support per nine innings last season, the lowest rate in the National League. He was given 3.51 runs to work with in 2007, the second lowest figure in the league. Both numbers were the second lowest in the majors.
In Johnson, Cain has a soul-mate. Johnson has had an eight-game losing streak during his career, and in one span of four starts with the Diamondbacks in 1999 was beaten by a no-hitter, a one-hitter, a two-hitter and a three-hitter. He received six runs in those four shutouts.
"I can talk to him about what it is like not to get a lot of run support," said Johnson, 45, in his first season with the Giants.
Cain has 43 quality starts over the past two seasons after going 13-12 in 2006, his first season as a full-time starter. His ERA that year was 4.16.
"He just does what he can and controls what he can and gives the rest up to the baseball gods," Giants left-hander Barry Zito said. "They haven't treated him that well thus far, but everyone in the league knows he's a threat every time he takes the mound ... It has to turn at some point."
Cain, 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, said you just have to keep pitching.
"All we can really control is what we are doing out on the mound," he said. "There are always things to work on. In some of those games when the offense didn't do much, I'll go back and think I gave the game away. They gave me enough runs to win, and I didn't do enough or hold on. A lot of those games, I'd like to be a lot more clutch for those guys."
Manager Bruce Bochy said he liked what he saw on the first throwing day from Cain, who showed up in great shape and appears to have redistributed some of his weight.
"I hope this year we are not having to say the same thing about a lack of run support," Bochy said. "It's been two years of talking about this. Hopefully we get some runs for him and as a club we figure out a way to win some of those games."