Bumgarner Struggles Again as Giants Fall to Padres (Again)

The Giants offense couldn’t overcome another rough start by Madison Bumgarner as they dropped game one to the San Diego Padres 6-4 on Monday night.

The Padres drew first blood against Bumgarner, who labored through much of the game. Tommy Medica lead off the top of the fourth with a ground ball that Brandon Crawford couldn’t quite handle. Alexi Amarista followed it up with a double before Rene Rivera doubled them both home to give San Diego a 2-0 lead.

But San Francisco wouldn’t allow Tyson Ross to have a shutdown inning. Angel Pagan lead off the bottom of the fourth with a single to center, and Hunter Pence collected his second triple of the homestand to get the Giants on the board. The struggling Brandon Belt worked a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch before Michael Morse singled both runners home, making it 3-2. The left fielder leads the Giants in RBIs with 19 and, after a three-hit night, is batting .300 on the season.

Unfortunately for San Francisco, the trend of non-shutdown innings continued. With one out, Medica and Amarista once again set the table with a single and a walk before Rivera crushed a three-run home run to left-center, giving the Padres back the lead. Rivera was responsible for the first five San Diego runs on Monday night, and his five RBIs was a career-high.

Bumgarner settled in to get out of the inning, but his night was done after just five innings of work. He threw 98 pitches – 26 of them coming in the first – and allowed seven hits, five runs (four of them earned), four walks, and five strikeouts. It was the third time this season that the right-hander hasn’t pitched into the sixth (per Matt Kawahara), and it’s his third loss in a row. Despite a tough 2014, Bumgarner says that Monday night was possibly the worst so far.

“I feel ike today was probably the worst I had, command-wise and all that. The other times I was maybe trying to nibble too much, but today I was trying to get ahead. I just wasn’t able to do it.”

Manager Bruce Bochy isn’t too worried about his starter yet, though.

“It’s the case, I think, when you look at whether it’s a hitter or a pitcher. They’re gonna be a little off at times or they’re gonna go through their little skids. We’re pretty spoiled with Madison, with the way he’s pitched, especially here at home…Just a strange night. We just couldn’t quite get it done.”

Sunday’s hero Brandon Hicks led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot to straightaway center, bringing the Giants to within a run. With one out in the sixth, Buster Posey doubled off the wall in right and Morse singled, knocking Ross out of the game. After he threw an eight-inning shutout against the Giants on April 18, his line on Monday night was more similar to Bumgarner’s. Ross tossed five-and-a-third innings, giving up eight hits, four runs, two walks, and four strikeouts. He threw 91 pitches – 57 strikes, but got the win.

It looked like the Giants would take back the lead in that sixth inning, especially when Morse moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. But Pablo Sandoval, who’s now one-for-his-last-16 with runners in scoring position, struck out and, after a walk to Crawford, Hicks flied out to left, missing a grand slam by a few feet and ending the inning. Sandoval and Belt combined to go 0-for-7 and are batting .172 and .255, respectively. Bochy says that those guys getting hot are key to this line-up’s success.

“Our corner guys, they’re gonna have to get on track for us to have success and put runs on the board. They’re both going through tough times right now, so we’ll just keep working. I don’t know what I’m gonna do tomorrow…but we definitely need these two guys going.”

San Francisco’s bullpen remained brilliant at home, as Juan Gutierrez, Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi, and Javier Lopez combined to two-hit the Padres for the remaining four innings. San Diego tacked on a late run in the top of the ninth when Will Venable hit a lead-off double, moved to third on a Chase Hundley ground out, and scored on an Alexi Amarista fielder’s choice. It was the first run allowed by Lopez all season. Prior to that run, the Giants bullpen hadn’t allowed a run in 24 innings at home.

Unfortunately for the Giants, Padres relievers were even better, as Alex Torres, Nick Vincent, Joaquin Benoit, and Huston Street held the Giants line-up to just one hit in three-and-two-thirds innings.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers off on Monday, San Francisco stays in first place in the National League by a half-game over the Colorado Rockies and a full game over the rival Dodgers. Matt Cain (0-3, 4.35) will look to get his first win on Tuesday night against Eric Stults (1-2, 4.15).