SAN FRANCISCO -- In the challenging months of April and May, Madison Bumgarner asked for patience.
Despite an ERA that frequently hovered above 4.00 and peripheral statistics that suggested a regression, Bumgarner believed his numbers would eventually look like they did during the best years of his career.
With fewer than seven weeks left in the regular season, who's still doubting him?
In a second consecutive brilliant start, Bumgarner allowed just two hits and one run over seven dominant innings to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 3-2 victory over the Oakland A's.
Giants closer Will Smith loaded the bases and walked in a run during a pressure-packed ninth inning, but Smith got second baseman Chad Pinder to swing through a fastball to end the game on his 37th pitch of the inning.
After Bumgarner's ERA ballooned to 4.21 following one of the worst outings of his career on June 20 at Dodger Stadium, he has posted a 2.61 ERA in his last 10 starts, nine of which have ended with Giants wins.
Against an A's lineup that's contending for an American League Wild Card berth, Bumgarner gave up a solo home run and a weak single while striking out nine hitters. In the midst of a rally in the bottom of the seventh, manager Bruce Bochy allowed the pitcher to hit for himself and he laid down a perfect bunt that ultimately led to Scooter Gennett's pinch-hit sacrifice fly.
A year after Bumgarner helped the Giants improve to 60-60 with six innings of two-run ball against the Dodgers, the left-hander willed his club to victory over another rival as the Giants again climbed to 60-60 through their first 120 games.
If the Giants' front office went in a different direction at the trade deadline, Bumgarner may find himself pitching his best ball of the year for a contending club with visions of hoisting a World Series trophy. Instead, he remained with the only franchise he's ever known and is devoting the months of August and September to keeping San Francisco in the National League Wild Card race.
After a dismal performance in the game's first five innings, the Giants' offense pumped life back into the crowd at Oracle Park with three consecutive sixth-inning doubles against A's starter Brett Anderson.