Madison Bumgarner (1.83 ERA) threw six and a third innings of two-run ball, and the San Francisco Giants kept up their torrid hitting by clubbing three more home runs, one a three-run shot by Pablo Sandoval, as they subdued the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2 today, under sunny skies at Chavez Ravine. The victory marked the second series win on the road for the Giants, in the early going against National League West rivals. Paul Maholm, 10-11, 4.41 ERA with the Braves last season, started in place of Clayton Kershaw. His line read five earned runs, on seven hits, in four and a third innings innings for the day. Bumgarner allowed two runs on eight hits, in six and a third innings, with ten strikeouts, in a much-needed quality start by the Giants’ ace.
San Francisco scored first in the top of the second when Michael Morse drew a four-pitch walk, and Brandons, Belt and Hicks, each lined singles, Hicks’s so hard that Morse was unable to score. Brandon Crawford then grounded a ball far enough to the right side of the infield that Hanley Ramirez, after forcing Hicks at second base, did not even attempt a throw to first to get the hustling Crawford. Morse scored on the play and Bumgarner struck out to end the inning, forcing Maholm to throw eight pitches during the at-bat.
In the bottom of the second, after Kemp struck out on a checked-swing, Van Slyke walked and Juan Uribe doubled to left-center. This was not a pitch that was served up by Bumgarner. On a knee-high ball that was way out away from the plate, Uribe reached for and stroked the ball into the gap, with Van Slyke scoring on the play. Ellis lined out to Pagan, and Maholm then struck out swinging on ball four, to end the inning.
Pagan led off the top of third with a hard-hit grounder to Uribe, and Hunter Pence followed with a ground-rule double, pretty much down the left-field line. Sandoval lined out to Kemp in right-center field and Pence easily advanced on the play, but Posey popped out to Ramirez at short to end the threat. In the third Puig led off with a hard-hit grounder up the middle that Crawford made a dazzling play to snag, and then do a spin-around, throwing wide to Belt and pulling him off the bag. On the play, Puig made a head-first dive into first, jamming his left arm against the bag as he did so. He stayed in the game and after Turner struck out, Ramirez took a called third strike and was not happy. But when umpire Joe West took off his mask, Hanley was smart enough to walk back to the dugout. Madison then poured salt in the wound by picking Puig off first, thus sending the Dodgers back onto the field.
Michael Morse unloaded to lead off the fourth inning, the fourth consecutive game that he has knocked in a run, and the Giants assumed a 2-1 lead. Belt grounded out to Gonzalez at first and as Crawford approached the plate, the Dodger PA announcer displayed his droll sense of humor by intoning, “Another Brandon, Crawford.” Three groundouts later, the top-half of the inning was over. For the Dodgers, Gonzalez led off the bottom of the inning with an opposite-field double that split the gap between Pagan and Morse, but Bumgarner then proceeded to strike out the side.
Bumgarner led off the fifth with a little inside-out swing that deposited the ball in right field. Pagan then followed with a rifle shot to left, giving the Giants runners on first and second with nobody out, but Pence lined out to Van Slyke, for the first out of the inning. Sandoval, who had hit the ball hard twice in the game with nothing to show for it, then hammered one out for a 5-1 Giant(s) lead. Posey decided to get into the act and blasted the third home run of the game out to left field. Considering the Giants were tied for the major league lead for most home runs going into the game, there’s a good chance they are now in sole possession of the top spot.
Bumgarner pitched a shut-down inning in the bottom of the fifth.
By his own admission, Bumgarner did not have a feel for the ball in his first start; he was behind in the counts and it didn’t help that the defense played spotty behind him. To see him strike out eight in the first four innings (ten altogether), and then shut the Dodgers down after Sandoval’s blast, was key.
In the sixth Hicks struck out swinging, Crawford walked, Bumgarner put down a perfect bunt and Pagan doubled him home for the seventh run of the game. Yusmeiro Petit came in to pitch the ninth and retired the side in order. The victory was exactly what the Giants needed to continue their red-hot start to the season. The formula before the year began was to get a hot start out the gate; The Giants, 5-1, are sizzling, and the summer’s not even here yet.
Hunter Pence gunned down A.J. Ellis at the plate to end the seventh on a close play that was reviewed by the umpiring crew, which upheld the call.
Gregor Blanco then made a Sports Center-type catch to rob Ellis of extra bases in the ninth.
On the play, Hunter picked up his third outfield assist of the season, in the first six games, after having only two all of last year.
Pablo made a full-out, horizontal dive to snag a sizzling grounder, got up and made a laser shot of a throw to nail the baserunner at first.
When Sandoval batted in the inning immediately following, he took an outside pitch for ball four, on what I’ve seen him swing at so wildly in the past. He is trying to be more patient at the plate.
The Giants were tied for the major league lead at the start of play for home runs with six and now have nine.
Santiago Casilla speared a come-backer in the eighth and started a timely double play, Casilla to Hicks to Belt.