SAN FRANCISCO – Cliff Lee could appreciate a career performance even if he walked away from AT&T Park with no win to show for it.
Typically, 10 scoreless innings should be more than enough for a victory.
Lee and Giants ace Matt Cain combined to throw 19 scoreless innings in San Francisco's 1-0, 11-inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night, bringing back memories of those great old righty-lefty showdowns of Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax.
Melky Cabrera hit an RBI single in the 11th inning, ending a thrilling pitchers' duel that seemed as if it might go on all night.
Strange that Cain and Lee have only a no-decision to show for their remarkable work.
"Both guys were absolutely tremendous," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Cabrera came through against Antonio Bastardo (0-1), who allowed Brandon Belt's one-out single up the middle. Belt then advanced when third baseman Ty Wigginton couldn't control Angel Pagan's grounder.
The sellout crowd of 41,860 got treated to a game that lasted just 2 hours, 27 minutes. And it left Lee still searching for his first win of the season after three starts.
"It was a classic pitcher's duel. It's the first time I ever threw 10 innings. It was neat," Lee said. "I'd rather give up two runs and get the win though. Any time you lose it's disappointing. I had a good changeup and I was throwing my curveballs for strikes. I don't usually do both in the same game. When things are going well I try to work fast. I try to keep a good pace. Everybody likes that. I was told I was done after nine, but I said I could easily pitch another inning. I tried it again after 10 but it didn't happen."
The Giants won a third straight series after being swept in three one-run losses to open the year at defending division champion Arizona, while the Phillies dropped their third series in four.
Lee's 10 innings were a career high and he became the first Phillies starter to go beyond nine innings since Terry Mulholland on May 8, 1993, against St. Louis. Lee allowed seven hits, struck out seven, didn't walk a batter and threw 81 of his 102 pitches for strikes.
And Lee didn't throw his 100th pitch until strike one to Nate Schierholtz with two outs in the 10th.
"I haven't seen two pitchers pitch that well. What a matchup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Terrific game by two guys that hooked horns and neither one was giving in."
This one marked the second great matchup of aces in three games after Roy Halladay outpitched Tim Lincecum in Philadelphia's 5-2 win Monday night.
Both pitchers worked quickly, each allowing only two base runners to reach second in their combined 19 innings.
"Just nonstop back and forth," Cain said. "Both of us tried to throw a lot of strikes and get guys out. We were both pounding the strike zone. We were through nine before two hours. It's not very often. That's pretty crazy."
Carlos Ruiz led off the top of the 11th with a double against Sergio Romo for the Phillies' first extra-base hit of the game and just the second all game on a night nine innings were — remarkably — in the books after just 1:50.
Ruiz moved to third on a sacrifice by Freddy Galvis, then pinch-hitter Jim Thome batted for Lee and struck out swinging against Javier Lopez.
John Mayberry Jr. entered to pinch-hit and Bochy brought in winner Clay Hensley (1-0) as well as Belt to play first in a double-switch. Mayberry grounded out to end the inning.
"The way he was throwing you wanted to do anything you could to get him the 'W.' He deserved it," Wigginton said of Lee.
Pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez reached on Laynce Nix's fielding error in the bottom of the ninth, but Lee induced the third of four double plays he got against the Giants.
Cain dazzled for the second straight start, tossing nine scoreless innings in back-to-back outings for the first time in his career.
Coming off a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory over the Pirates in last Friday's home opener in which the only baserunner he allowed was a single to pitcher James McDonald, Cain was nearly as good this time out.
"Awesome," Lopez said. "That was great. Two starters like that, I haven't seen that in a long time."
Manuel mixed things up again, running out his 10th different lineup in the initial 12 games — but Cain held everybody in check.
Cain, who signed a new $127.5 million, six-year contract April 2, issued a one-out walk to Ruiz in the fifth before the right-hander retired the final 13 batters he faced in order before giving way to new closer Santiago Casilla. Cain gave up two hits, struck out four and walked one.
Cain went three up, three down in the first on 15 pitches and was through four on 41 pitches, allowing only Galvis' one-out single in the third.
"That's as good as I've seen. They both threw strikes, pounded the zone and got into a rhythm," Thome said.
Notes: Aaron Harang was the last pitcher to go 10 innings, July 23, 2007, with the Reds. Halladay also did it in April that year. ... Cain came in 1-4 with a 4.17 ERA in his previous seven starts vs. Philly. ... The Phillies, who play a four-game series in San Diego starting Thursday, went 23-9 against the NL West last year. ... The Phillies had been 4-2 in their previous six games at AT&T Park, outscoring the Giants 22-12 during that stretch. Philadelphia won three of four here last season for just their fourth series victory in the waterfront ballpark since it opened in 2000.