SAN FRANCISCO--Madison Bumgarner and AT&T Park haven't been on friendly terms for much of 2014, but Tuesday night, they were very nearly in perfect harmony.
The 25-year-old left-hander was within six outs of a perfect game until Colorado's Justin Morneau ruined the party with a leadoff double in the eighth inning. It hardly ruined Bumgarner, who proceeded to strike out the next three hitters and complete a 3-0 one-hitter against the Rockies with 13 strikeouts, matching his career-best.
Bumgarner got all the offensive support he needed from his catcher, Buster Posey, who slammed a two-run homer to left-center in the sixth against Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa following a Hunter Pence leadoff walk. From there, the crowd of 41,050 oohed and ahhed on every Bumgarner pitch until Morneau played the spoiler.
Bumgarner got ahead in the count 1-2 to Morneau but tried to slip an inside pitch past the veteran left-handed hitter, and he slammed it down the right-field line into the corner, a no-doubter of a hit.
But the pitcher shrugged off the first blemish of his pitching night and proceeded to strike out Michael McKenry, Matt McBride and Brandon Barnes in succession. He then retired the side in order in the ninth, facing one batter over the minimum for the game. He threw 103 pitches, 80 for strikes.
Posey struck again in the the eighth, ripping his second homer of the game into the left-field seats against reliever Brooks Brown. Posey's two homers were his 16th and 17th of the season and his first multihomer game at AT&T.
As for Bumgarner, he threw his third career shutout. He had one earlier this month, a two-hitter against the New York Mets at Citi Field. That wasn't so surprising, considering Bumgarner is 10-3 with a 1.86 ERA on the road this year.
But at home, it had been a different story. Bumgarner came into the start just 4-6 with a 5.17 ERA at AT&T, but he did throw seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball against Philadelphia in his last home start on Aug. 15. He would up getting a no-decision in a game the Giants lost 5-3 in 10 innings.
It was clear early that he had his full arsenal working, although he had a dicey moment at the outset of the game when the second hitter of the first inning, outfielder Drew Stubbs, hit a ball deep to left field that looked as if it might go over the fence.
But Gregor Blanco, who helped preserve Matt Cain's 2012 perfect game with a spectacular diving catch in right-center, jumped and snagged Stubbs' ball at the top of the wall.
With two outs in the fifth inning, McBride hit a ball to deep short. Brandon Crawford, who made consecutive errant throws on similar grounders on Monday night, gloved the ball and made a strong throw to get McBride.
The Giants squandered a two-on, one-out situation in the first when Pence walked and Posey reached on an error by third baseman Nolan Arenado, but Pablo Sandoval struck out and Michael Morse flew out to center.
It was Bumgarner's second career one-hitter. He threw his first on June 28, 2012, against Cincinnati.
--Before the game, Tim Lincecum talked about missing a start and relocating to the bullpen to clean up his delivery. He admitted he was frustrated with his recent string of poor starts.
"Consistency was something I was looking so forward to finding and I did, so it was heartbreaking to kind of fall out of it," Lincecum said.
The 30-year-old Lincecum said he is hard at work trying to regain his proper mechanics and that "the last two days have been pretty proactive for me." One of the major issues is finding a proper alignment toward the plate.
"I lose track of my line when I start turning my back to home plate too much, then my arm starts to drag and I don't even have a line toward where I'm trying to throw," he said. "I'm trying to guess and make it up, and all within that, I'm trying to make quality pitches with four different pitches. It's kind of hard." Lincecum said he's trying to keep a positive attitude.
"It's always difficult because you don't want to be in this position," he said. "But now that I've found myself in it, I'll try to work out of it. It'd be bad to take this as a negative because I'm still going to be able to pitch."
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