KANSAS CITY -- The names roll smoothly off the tongue, for they have become legendary. Willie Mays. Willie McCovey. Barry Bonds. Juan Marichal. Christy Mathewson. Carl Hubbell. Mel Ott. Each occupies a hallowed spot in the pantheon of Giants franchise greats. Add another to this assemblage: Madison Bumgarner.
The 25-year-old left-hander joined this distinguished group Wednesday night by completing a World Series performance that might rank as the finest by a Giant in the club's history. He garnished his victories in Games 1 and 5 with five shutout innings of relief to earn the save in Game 7 to help San Francisco outlast the Kansas City Royals, 3-2. The decision sealed the Giants' third World Series triumph in five seasons.
With the win, the Giants broke a string of nine consecutive home-team wins in Game 7 of the World Series, becoming the first road team to win Game 7 since the 1979 Pirates.
Predictably, Bumgarner was unanimously named the Series' Most Valuable Player Award winner after allowing one earned run in 21 innings, for a microscopic 0.43 ERA. The award created a matching set for Bumgarner, who also won MVP honors in the National League Championship Series against St. Louis.
"You know what? I can't lie to you anymore," Bumgarner said in a postgame news conference. "I'm a little tired now."
After coming on in relief of Jeremy Affeldt, who pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief of starter Tim Hudson, Bumgarner showed no fatigue against the Royals, whom he limited to two hits in Game 7.
After San Francisco scored what proved to be the winning run in the fourth inning on Michael Morse's RBI single, Kansas City used three relievers to blank the Giants over the final five innings -- something Bumgarner did all by himself after pitching a four-hit shutout three days earlier in Game 5. He became the first left-hander to pitch at least four innings in Game 7 of the World Series on two days' rest since the illustrious Sandy Koufax beat the Minnesota Twins in 1965.
Typically, Bumgarner would have thrown about 40 or 50 pitches in the bullpen on Wednesday as part of his between-starts workout. Thus, before the game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Bumgarner could last that long if summoned to face the Royals. Nobody anticipated his yeoman, 68-pitch output. However, Bumgarner regarded it as simply doing his job.
"I wasn't thinking about finishing the game or how many pitches I was going to go or pitch count," he said. "I was just wanting to get outs."
Bumgarner yielded a single to the first batter he faced, Omar Infante, before proceeding to retire the next 14 batters he faced. Then, with the Giants one out from victory, Alex Gordon lined a single to left-center field on an 0-1 pitch. After the ball skipped past center fielder Gregor Blanco, left fielder Juan Perez struggled to pick it up as Gordon raced to third base.
That didn't faze Bumgarner. Salvador Perez popped a 2-2 pitch into foul ground outside of third base, where Pablo Sandoval made a careful, two-handed catch before falling backward in ecstasy. The Giants, many of whom played on the Series-winning teams of 2010 and '12, flooded the field in celebration.
"He's incredible," Morse, who drove in two runs, said of Bumgarner. "He's a different human being. Yesterday, I told him, 'If you're going to go out there tomorrow, you better bring it.' And he said, 'Just watch me.'"
HOW THE GIANTS WON
The Giants resorted to what they've jokingly called their "ground attack," an unglamorous but effective form of offense. They scored twice in the second inning, loading the bases with nobody out as Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie nicked Sandoval with a pitch and yielded singles to Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt. Sacrifice flies by Morse and Brandon Crawford delivered the runs.
With the score tied, 2-2, the Giants inched ahead in the fourth, which began with singles by Sandoval and Pence. One out later, Kelvin Herrera relieved Guthrie to face Morse, who singled home Sandoval on an 0-2 pitch.
"I just told myself to stay relaxed, see the ball over the middle, try not to do too much and try and put it into play," Morse said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Turning two in review: The Giants converted a huge pair of outs in the third inning, aided by replay review. They were granted a double play as an initial "safe" call was overturned to "out" at first base
The play began in eye-popping fashion, as Giants second baseman Joe Panik dove to snare Eric Hosmer's grounder and shoveled the ball to shortstop Crawford, who covered second base and forced out Lorenzo Cain.
"That was the key to the game," said Affeldt, who was pitching at the time and who earned the win. "It kept them from rallying for another inning. So I think being able to shut it down real quick allowed me to go out for another inning. That was a big deal. For me, that was the biggest play of the night."
Perfect Pablo: The Giants received much-needed offense from Sandoval, who went 3-for-3 and scored twice. If this was his last performance as a Giant -- he's eligible for free agency -- he at least left the club with his best.
"Great players have a way of rising to the occasion," Bochy said. "He did that."
This completed a postseason in which Sandoval batted .366 (26-for-71). In his previous postseason, 2012, he was named the World Series MVP Award winner.
Catcher Buster Posey, asked whether the Giants' three World Series triumphs in five seasons constitutes a dynasty: "If it's not, I don't know if we can really get much closer."
• Giants starting pitchers accumulated only 32 1/3 innings in the seven-game Series. That's the fourth fewest by a Series-winning team. The starters for the 1979 Pirates amassed 30 2/3 innings, and the 2002 Angels and 1960 Pirates each had 31.
• It followed that Giants relievers pitched 64 postseason innings, the third-highest total ever. They trailed only the 2011 Cardinals (68) and the '11 Rangers (65 1/3).
• The Giants are the only team in any sport to earn three titles in five seasons while winning every other season and missing the postseason in the two years in between.