PHILADELPHIA — San Francisco left-hander Madison Bumgarner came up big as a hitter on Sunday. He hopes to make a more conventional contribution Tuesday night, when the Giants open a nine-game road trip with a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Bumgarner (10-6, 2.09 ERA) gets the start for the struggling National League West leaders, facing Phillies rookie right-hander Zach Eflin (3-4, 4.23 ERA).
Before winning the final two games of a four-game weekend series against the Washington Nationals, San Francisco had dropped 11 of 13 games since the All-Star break.
The Giants, whose 10-13 record in July represented their worst in any month this season, shored up their pitching staff by acquiring starter Matt Moore from Tampa Bay and reliever Will Smith from the Milwaukee Brewers at Monday's trade deadline, but offense remains a concern. They are averaging 3.2 runs and hitting .243 as a team over their past 15 games.
Bumgarner did his part at the plate Sunday, doubling off the right field fence in the fifth inning as a pinch hitter for starting pitcher Matt Cain. Manager Bruce Bochy made the move even though Cain had worked five no-hit innings against the Nationals — albeit while throwing 93 pitches.
Bochy then sent in pitcher Jeff Samardzija to pinch-run for Bumgarner, and Samardzija came around to score, helping San Francisco earn a 3-1 victory.
“They both want to get into the game,” Bochy said of Bumgarner and Samardzija. “Pretty impressive pinch-hit, wasn't it?”
Bumgarner, who is hitting .179 this season and .182 in his career, told MLB.com, “It's fun to just be a part of the game and get a chance to help the team win when you're not out there pitching. I'm just glad it worked out.”
Bumgarner, who turned 27 Monday, is 0-2 over his last three starts, though he has allowed just seven earned runs over 21 innings (an ERA of 3.00) while striking out 24. The Giants have managed just four runs in that span.
The four-time All-Star also dropped a 3-2 decision to the Phillies on June 25, carrying a 2-0 lead into the seventh before yielding three runs in that inning, the last two on a homer by Philadelphia catcher Cameron Rupp.
“That's one of the best in the game,” Rupp said of Bumgarner during the Phillies' last homestand, “and to be able to have an at-bat like I did off him, and then the result, of course it boosts confidence. I think when you have confidence, you have success. That's been the whole thing for me.”
Rupp, a full-time starter for the first time this season, is hitting .273 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs. The Phillies as a team continue to struggle at the plate, however. They are 29th in the major leagues in batting average (.239) and runs (380), and their .218 home average is baseball's worst.
Eflin allowed seven runs on nine hits over five innings in an 11-1 loss to the Miami Marlins his last time out, but in his previous seven starts, he fashioned a 2.08 ERA.
Called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on June 10, he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Jimmy Rollins trade in December 2014. He pitched well in his only outing against the Giants, allowing just an unearned run in six innings during a no-decision on June 24 in San Francisco.