SAN FRANCISCO -- These kinds of losses are all too familiar for Matt Cain. So many times last season, he watched his hard work amount to nothing.
Chris Duncan lined a go-ahead single to left with the bases loaded in the 10th inning and the St. Louis Cardinals battered the San Francisco bullpen for an 8-7 victory Saturday to spoil a gem by the Giants' starter.
Cain had a no-hitter heading into the seventh, but Albert Pujols ended it with a leadoff double. It was the fourth time in Cain's career he hadn't allowed a hit entering the seventh.
"It's tough for all of us," Cain said. "It's a loss all of us should never let happen. In the pitchers' minds, we should be able to pull that off."
St. Louis took advantage of two walks, one intentional, and a hit batsman by Erick Threets (0-1) in the 10th. Jason Isringhausen (1-0) blew his first save in six chances this season in the ninth but still earned the win. Anthony Reyes finished for his first save in as many tries.
"We came back twice today, which is great," Isringhausen said.
San Francisco's Fred Lewis doubled in the tying run with two outs in the ninth, and the ball glanced off first baseman Pujols' glove and into shallow right field. Rich Aurilia's RBI single got the Giants within 7-6.
The Cardinals had gone ahead in the top of the ninth on Ryan Ludwick's two-run homer off Brad Hennessey. Duncan pulled the Cardinals within 5-3 on a solo home run off Tyler Walker leading off the eighth, then Rick Ankiel hit a tying two-run shot two batters later. Walker, who had not given up a run in his first five outings, was booed walking off the field.
"A hard playing bunch of guys," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "Play until it's over because you never know what happens. ... We've played 12 games so far like this and played really hard all the time. Nothing's bothered us."
Cain also homered to break a scoreless tie and John Bowker hit a three-run shot in his major league debut for San Francisco, which blew a 5-0 lead to deny Cain his first victory.
"That kid did everything. He pitched great and hit a home run," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's one we can't let slip away for him, and we did. The kid's handled everything well. He's not going to say anything. He had to deal with it last year. We had the game in hand and let it get away."
Bowker, called up earlier in the day to start in right field, also singled in his first career at-bat. After his sixth-inning homer, Bowker received a curtain call and came back out of the dugout and tipped his cap to a standing ovation -- the first time that's ever happened to him.
A Sacramento native with lots of friends and family in attendance, Bowker became the eighth San Francisco player to homer in his first major league game, joining the likes of Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda and the late Bobby Bonds. He got the ball from his base hit, too.
"That was awesome," he said. "To get that hit out of the way and to hear the crowd was a plus."
Cain hit the first pitch of the sixth inning from Todd Wellemeyer into the left-field seats for his third career homer, and the first by a Giants pitcher since Noah Lowry connected last Aug. 24, against Milwaukee.
Both starters were on from first pitch, combining for eight strikeouts through two innings.
The 23-year-old Cain was the Giants' hard-luck pitcher in 2007, going 7-16 despite consistently pitching well in his second full season in the majors. San Francisco was 9-23 in his starts and the bullpen blew five of Cain's leads.
He struck out five and walked three in 6 2/3 innings Saturday, giving up two runs and three hits in his first career appearance against St. Louis.
"We could've easily given in but no one did," Duncan said. "Everyone kept taking good at-bats and we got Cain out of the game. He threw really well but we just stayed in there, and once they got a new pitcher everyone started grinding it out."
Wellemeyer struck out seven and walked three in six innings, allowing five earned runs and five hits.
Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand rested his sore groin for a second straight day.
Isringhausen had been 6-for-6 saving games in the Giants' waterfront ballpark. ... San Francisco hasn't had a no-hitter since John Montefusco no-hit Atlanta on Sept. 29, 1976. ... San Francisco is 0-6 in afternoon games. ... Saturday marked the 48th anniversary of the opening of Candlestick Park, the Giants' former stadium. That day, San Francisco beat the Cardinals 3-1 in front of 42,269 people.