PHOENIX –- Every staff needs a stopper. But a bona fide ace is quite nice to have, too.
A day after the Giants halted their six-game losing streak, Madison Bumgarner came awfully close to throwing a no-hitter Sunday afternoon. He overwhelmed the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Giants’ 4-1 victory at Chase Field.
For eight shutout innings, Cody Ross had Arizona’s only hit: a swinging bunt in the second inning that Bumgarner slid to field, buying the left-hander just enough time to fire a one-bounce throw. It beat Ross to first base by a half-step but Joaquin Arias couldn’t come up with it.
Arias, as you’ll recall, handled the final out of Matt Cain’s perfect game on June 13, 2012.
This time, it wasn’t to be. And neither was Bumgarner’s second career shutout.
He took the mound in the ninth with 105 pitches but didn’t retire either of the first two batters, as shortstop Brandon Crawford booted a ground ball for an error and Ender Inciarte singled off the glove of third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
Sergio Romo entered and allowed an RBI single to Martin Prado. But Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a double play and Aaron Hill struck out to end it.
Tyler Colvin hit an RBI double in the fourth inning, and Joe Panik had his first two big league hits including an RBI double in an impressive first major league start as the Giants took two of three from Arizona to finish a 2-3 road trip.
Starting pitching report
Remember when Bumgarner allowed 45 hits over 33.2 innings in his first six starts? He’s back to his stingy self again, allowing just 47 hits over 69 innings spanning his last 10 outings.
Bumgarner (9-4) got ahead, worked quickly and used his slider and change to put away hitters in two-strike counts. He came within a couple plays of recording his second shutout and his first since June 28, 2012, when he one-hit the Cincinnati Reds.
Bumgarner allowed two hits, issued two walks (both to Goldschmidt) and struck out seven. The only run charged to him was unearned and scored after he left the game.
He also made a fine defensive play in the fourth inning, when he snagged Aaron Hill’s line drive and threw to first base to double off Goldschmidt.
Bumgarner took the mound in the ninth with 105 pitches, and shortstop Brandon Crawford booted pinch hitter Jordan Pacheco’s ground ball for an error.
Romo’s slider still had way more hover than the Giants would like to see, but he threw enough good ones to save his 22nd game in 26 chances.
At the plate
Arizona rookie Mike Bolsinger didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, when Hunter Pence lined a one-out single and was caught stealing. Bolsinger had the temerity to throw a 3-2 curveball that froze Buster Posey, and Pence was nabbed easily while trying to steal to complete the double play.
The Giants made another out on the bases but not before scoring the game’s first run. Brandon Crawford drew a one-out walk and Colvin hit a drive to left-center that center fielder Ender Inciarte couldn’t cut off with a diving attempt. It rolled to the wall and Crawford scored, but Inciarte recovered quickly and linked up with shortstop Didi Gregorius on two strong throws to nail Colvin trying for third base.
Panik followed with a single to left field for his first major league hit, then hustled to take second base when Ross bobbled it.
Panik also scalded a lineout to right field in the eighth inning. And he made more solid contact to cap a three-run rally in the ninth. Buster Posey hit an RBI double and scored on Crawford’s single, then Panik sent a drive to the wall in left field for his first career double and RBI. It came on an 0-2 pitch, too.
One more note: Crawford hit his seventh triple of the season -– one away from the major league lead –- in the seventh.
Panik acquitted himself well at second base in his first major league start. His equipment finally arrived Sunday morning after he was separated from his bags on one of his flights from New Orleans on Saturday, and he was glad to have his trusty gamer glove again.
Panik used that glove to make a nice scoop of Inciarte’s slow roller in the sixth inning. A flick of the leather delivered it to first base in time to retire the speedy runner.
The Diamondbacks announced 27,862 paid, and Giants fans must’ve bought out the right field pool party section. There were giant Fat Heads of Kruk, Kuip, Jon and Flem splashing around out there. We’re surprised meddlesome Arizona owner Ken Kendrick didn’t put a stop to that.
The Giants begin a three-game series against the San Diego Padres on Monday at AT&T Park. Matt Cain (1-5, 4.52 ERA) takes the mound against Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner (2-6, 2.36). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT. It’ll be Tim Hudson (7-3, 2.39) vs. right-hander Jesse Hahn (2-1, 2.16) on Tuesday and Tim Lincecum (5-5, 4.90) vs. right-hander Ian Kennedy (5-8, 3.90) on Wednesday.