ST. LOUIS -- It's been a hot-and-cold season for southpaw Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. He opened September giving up a flurry of runs in a pair of starts, and the runs have been sparse for an offense that saw first baseman Brandon Belt undergo season-ending knee surgery Friday morning
ST. LOUIS -- It's been a hot-and-cold season for southpaw Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. He opened September giving up a flurry of runs in a pair of starts, and the runs have been sparse for an offense that saw first baseman Brandon Belt undergo season-ending knee surgery Friday morning prior to the Giants' 5-3 loss that evening to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
With a team that has been eliminated from the postseason and continues to struggle, manager Bruce Bochy was still pleased with the Giants' performance. Bumgarner didn't deliver an ace performance, but he kept the Giants within striking distance, allowing three runs in six innings off eight hits. What Bochy wasn't happy about, however, was the Giants' misfortune.
"Bad luck tonight, no question," Bochy said. "Balls down the third-base line tonight killed us."
The Cardinals placed a couple hits down the line, but none were more timely than when Cardinals pinch-hitter Matt Adams' bat split lining a game-winning double past third baseman Evan Longoria off reliever Tony Watson, scoring two runs in the eighth.
"It's just smart hitting, he placed it well. I thought I made a good pitch and was comfortable with the sequencing," Watson said. "If I face him tomorrow, I'm going to try and make the same exact pitch. I hope he doesn't hit in the same exact place, but I like the chances."
Bumgarner also was stung to a couple well-placed hits, but the lefty was otherwise effective. He retired 11 consecutive batters following a shaky first inning when he allowed three baserunners. He still limited the early damage to an RBI single from Cardinals left fielder Marcell Ozuna, stranding two on base.
"That was tough when you get soft contact, pitch to that contact, and they just find a hole. It was well-placed I guess. That's going to happen," Bumgarner said. "Guys line out, guys hit bloopers for hits and vice versa. It's the way the game goes, but that doesn't mean we have to like it."
The Giants' eight hits were stretched throughout. They knocked out Cardinals pitcher John Gant in the third inning, following a double from Longoria and three consecutive walks, but only one run was scored in the frame.
Bumgarner showed composure in the fifth and sixth, limiting the Cardinals to a run each inning, and the offense finally delivered with a two-run rally in the seventh, but it provided little breathing room to the pitching staff, striking out 16 times.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Longoria provided a quality 10-pitch at-bat in the seventh against Cardinals flamethrower Jordan Hicks that resulted in an RBI groundout to score the tying run. Longoria was down, 0-2, and fouled off six pitches before firing a grounder to first baseman Matt Carpenter and scoring Alen Hanson.
"What a great at-bat, I mean [Longoria] is playing really great baseball on both sides. Defensively and swinging the bat well against a guy that's throwing 100. He really fought hard up there," Bochy said.
HE SAID IT
"Obviously I like to come out on the winning side and keep some of those runs from scoring, but we're playing some good teams and they've got a lot to play for right now. They're not letting up at all." -- Bumgarner on the Cardinals, who hold a 1 1/2-game lead for an NL Wild Card spot with eight games to play
Right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (6-4, 2.30 ERA) takes the mound for the Giants in a quick turnaround Saturday against the Cardinals at 10:05 a.m. PT in Busch Stadium. Rodriguez has cooled off after a strong start to his rookie season, losing his last three decisions. He is 2-1 with a 2.58 ERA in seven road games. Veteran righty Adam Wainwright (2-3, 3.75) starts for St. Louis.
Sean Collins is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.