Giants ride Bumgarner to fourth-straight win

Madison Bumgarner hadn’t given up more than a single earned run in his last six starts. Tuesday night, he gave up two. The earth shook.

Bumgarner (W, 8-2, 1.91 ERA) has been that consistent for the Giants (40-26): A four-hit, two-run, eight-inning, eight-strikeout outing for the ace is somehow tainted with a smidge of disappointment. Giants fans are spoiled.

Those two runs rang out a bit louder in a closely contested Game 2 of this series. But Bumgarner’s presence at the plate, yet again, pulled the Giants to the winning side of a 3-2 game against the Milwaukee Brewers (30-35).

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

The game tied 2-2, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco on base, Milwaukee reliever Will Smith threw Bumgarner two breaking balls in the dirt. The first advanced the pair into scoring position. The second skidded past Jonathan Lucroy, letting Pagan ease home from third for the 3-2 lead.

Bumgarner’s a dual threat; an edge that’s helped him to his eighth win, a fourth-best 1.91 ERA — he sits behind Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the MLB ranks — five RBI and two home runs.

His all-or-nothing approach at the plate contrasts sharply with his perfectionist-mentality on the mound. That mix, though makes for a special kind of player, said manager Bruce Bochy:

“What’s really amazing about him is the little things he does. Pick off a runner, what he does with the at bat, you can see they were being careful with him, throwing him breaking balls and we got a couple walks there…he competes in every aspect of the game and that’s what makes him so special.”

After taking Kershaw deep in April, pitchers have treated Bumgarner like just another hitter. Chuck a fastball in with runners on and Bumgarner is more than capable of changing the game’s course. Smith, instead, tried to bait him with a few breaking balls that came back to bite him, said Bumgarner:

“That was the game for us today. Just caught a break, looked like it hit the front of the plate.”

He’ll take the mound over the batter’s box, though, and delivered Tuesday night. One start removed from the “off-day” he had against Boston, Bumgarner noted his improved command:

“Whether you feel good or not, if you’re able to make pitches, it’ll work out for you.”

Bumgarner kept the Brewers off the bases until the fourth and runs off board until the fifth, when Lucroy pounded a slider deep to left to tie the game at 1-1.

Hernan Perez‘s game-tying RBI single in the sixth broke Bumgarner’s 28 at-bat streak in which he hadn’t allowed a runner in scoring position to actually score.

Out of broken streaks, a broken record was born:Bumgarner grabbed his seventh-straight win, giving him the longest winning streak of any Giants starter in a single season. Barry Zito‘s six was the previous record.

Despite Buster Posey‘s 4-for-5 night, the Giants’ offense struggled.

Those two wild pitches really won it for a struggling offense, who left 13 runners on base and could only collect two other runs of support. Brandon Crawford‘s third-inning RBI and Angel Pagan‘s fifth-inning one were all she wrote.

Still, Bochy noted Posey’s improvement at the plate may be due to his healed thumb:

“I think you do see a difference without that nerve thing that was bothering him. He was trying to play through it…he’s staying on the ball so much better….when that hand’s not right, it makes this game so much tougher.”

The injured and healthy

The Giants’ DL got a whole lot of action Tuesday. Angel Pagan — who returned to San Francisco after going 4-for-11 rehabbing in Sacramento — persuaded Bochy he was ready to play.

Pagan was reinstated and Mac Williamson was sent back to the RiverCats before first pitch. Bochy said he liked how Pagan was playing:

“Good to have him back, with Pence out, to get one of your outfielders back. Makes things a little easier.”

Matt Cain was sent back to the DL with a right hamstring strain minutes before first pitch. Cain pitched 3-2/3 innings in his first start back and took himself out of the game.

Bochy said Cain felt soreness after his start that continued into Tuesday:

“I just decided the best thing to do was DL him, let’s get this thing right 100 percent.”

Chris Stratton, who was optioned after Cain’s reinstatement, was called back up to fill his spot.

Brandon Belt left the game in the eighth after taking a pitch to the right foot. X-Rays came back negative, but his foot looked pretty swollen post-game as he rode around the clubhouse in a scooter.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.