SAN FRANCISCO – Even when the Giants get something right, they find a way to get it wrong. Just when it seemed they had malfunctioned in every way possible, they managed to bat out of order in the bottom of the first Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The embarrassing mistake cost them a run but not the game, as Madison Bumgarner led the way to a 4-2 victory in a nationally televised game at AT&T Park.
It was a day to remember for Bumgarner. He was picked by Giants manager Bruce Bochy for his first All-Star berth earlier in the day, then he went out and held the Dodgers to two runs and three hits over seven innings. He added two RBI, and the way the Giants continue to spin their wheels offensively, they’ll welcome any production their pitchers can provide.
The Giants won despite a first-inning blunder of epic proportions. Buster Posey stepped to the plate as the No. 3 hitter and stroked an RBI double to score Gregor Blanco. Just one problem: The lineup card the Giants gave to the Dodgers had Pablo Sandoval hitting third and Posey cleanup.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called them on it. Sandoval was officially ruled out, the run was erased and Posey batted two consecutive times in an odd (and comical) sequence. At any rate, fans at AT&T Park went home with a lifelong baseball tale to share.
The Giants were just happy to go home with a victory, only their second in the past 12 games.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner pitched as if his spot on the N.L. All-Star team still hung in the balance. He struck out nine and walked zero, and he’s now won five of his past six decisions. The 23-year-old lefty retired his first 14 hitters, with Andre Ethier finally reaching base with two outs in the fifth on a bloop single to left. The next hitter, Tim Federowicz, hit a two-run homer to left for the visitors’ only runs, but Bumgarner got back on track. It was just the type of stabilizing effort his team needed. Bumgarner has now allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last six starts.
Sandy Rosario relieved Bumgarner to start the eighth. He allowed a double and gave way to Javier Lopez with twow outs. The lefty came up huge, striking out Carl Crawford and preserving the Giants’ two-run lead. Sergio Romo nailed down his 20th save.
At the plate
Once the Giants figured who was batting where, they had some success against Dodgers right-hander Stephen Fife. Bumgarner played a central role in that as well. He drew a bases-loaded walk in the second to get the Giants on the board. Gregor Blanco delivered a run-scoring infield single and Marco Scutaro added a sacrifice fly in that three-run rally. In the fourth, Hanley Ramirez played Andres Torres’ routine grounder into a two-base error to kickstart another rally. Bumgarner hit a sacrifice fly to deep right to plate Torres and make it a 4-0 game.
But a troubling trend continues. The Giants were just 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, making them a putrid 4 for 50 in this category over their last nine games. They failed to score in the fifth with runners on second and third and no outs. Hunter Pence grounded weakly to first, Brandon Belt struck out and Torres grounded out on a great play by Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis.
In the field
The Dodgers turned in some sloppy defense, with three errors contributing to two Giants scoring rallies. But Ellis, the former A’s second baseman, also turned in a gem for the visitors, ranging up the middle and throwing off-balance to first to rob Torres and save two runs in the fifth. The Giants played an error-free game, and Pablo Sandoval came up with a big play in the seventh. After Hanley Ramirez’s triple, he picked clean Juan Uribe’s sharp grounder and threw a strike to home to cut down Ramirez. The Panda flashed more good glove work in the eighth, with a diving stop and throw to retire Ellis at first.
Perhaps it was the All-Star announcements, Bumgarner’s short-lived run at perfection or just the sight of Dodger Blue, but the crowd of 41,638 seemed extra-charged up much of the afternoon. Maybe they just sensed the urgency for a team that had floundered to nine losses in its past 10 games.
Chad Gaudin (2-1, 2.60) will come off the disabled list and make his fifth start of the season in Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. series finale. His teammates must find a way to break through against Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 1.93), who has allowed just four earned runs against the Giants in his past four starts (32 IP).