The San Francisco Giants got a rally-starting at-bat from an unusual source.
The bad news: No doubt Madison Bumgarner might be picking up a bat more often whenever the team needs a little kick.
"Yeah, now we’ve got to hear it from him for a few days, saying how easy that was," manager Bruce Bochy said after Bumgarner’s first career pinch-hit helped produce an insurance run in a 2-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
"Good at-bat, good two-out rally. Getting that second run, that’s huge," said Bumgarner, the MVP of the 2014 World Series.
The man Bumgarner batted for joked that he wasn’t all that impressed.
"I probably would have gotten a hit," starter Ryan Vogelsong said.
Vogelsong had it working on the mound after a slow start, allowing two hits over six innings.
"This time of year is fun," the right-hander said. "I know it’s only August but the stretch we’re in right now, this is almost like playoff baseball for us."
Brandon Crawford doubled leading off the fifth for the Giants’ first hit when left fielder Brandon Moss couldn’t quite hold onto his drive down the line near both walls. He had a run-scoring groundout in the sixth for the first run.
The Giants have won six of eight and handed the Cardinals, who got a strong rebound outing from Lance Lynn, just their 19th home loss compared with 45 wins.
The teams have combined for five runs the first two games of a three-game series.
"It was a clean game," St. Louis rookie Stephen Piscotty said. "They got their timely hits and we just didn’t do it tonight, and that’s why there’s always tomorrow."
Vogelsong (9-8) struck out five and walked one while throwing 101 pitches. It was his third straight start in place of Mike Leake, who was acquired at the non-waiver trade deadline, but has been sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Vogelsong found out he would be starting on Monday.
"You’ve still got to watch video and stuff on these guys and know what you want to do when you get in there," he said.
Bumgarner is 1 for 5 as a pinch-hitter in his career after cashing in on his first chance this year, the two-out single in the seventh. The 14-game winner shut out the Washington Nationals on Sunday and hit his fourth homer of the season.
Lynn (9-8) was lifted after walking Gregor Blanco and Matt Duffy to load the bases, and Randy Choate hit Brandon Belt to force in Bumgarner for a 2-0 lead. Seth Maness then struck out Buster Posey for the final out.
Lynn allowed four hits in 6 2-3 innings, five days after the shortest start of his career when he recorded just two outs in a loss to Pittsburgh. He walked a season-high five, one intentional.
"Two hits aren’t going to do it," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "But that’s a great rebound start for Lance after his last one."
Santiago Casilla got the last three outs to finish the two-hitter and earn his 29th save in 34 chances.
Threat of heavy rain that never really materialized delayed the start for 31 minutes.
Bumgarner’s pinch-hit was the first by a Giants pitcher since Kirk Reuter on Aug. 17, 2004, against Montreal.
San Francisco LF Ryan Lollis, a 37th-round draft pick out of Missouri in 2009, singled in the eighth for his first career hit.
Giants: OF Hunter Pence is expected to miss at least two weeks with a left oblique injury after undergoing an MRI earlier Tuesday. He was injured on a fly out in the ninth on Monday.
Cardinals: OF Jason Heyward was out of the lineup, but the injury was not believed to be serious, perhaps just cramping, and he could return soon.
San Francisco RHP Matt Cain (2-3, 6.05 ERA) is 0-2 with an 8.24 ERA in his last four outings. Jaime Garcia (5-4, 1.57 ERA) was the first member of the Cardinals’ rotation to pitch into the ninth inning his last time out.