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Madison Bumgarner’s road struggles persist as Giants drop third straight

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Madison Bumgarner, seen here in 2017, got the walk-off single on Tuesday. (Stan Olszewski/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)

If the San Francisco Giants are going to emerge from their perpetual state of .500 baseball and compete in the tightly-packed NL West, they’re going to need Madison Bumgarner to pitch like an ace.

While he’s done that at home, he’s left something to be desired on the road, and that continued in Saturday’s 7-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

The big southpaw allowed six runs (five earned) over six innings in Saturday’s loss to the Reds, even facing a lineup that lacked Joey Votto, who’s served as the cornerstone of the batting order in the Queen City for the better part of the past decade.

A Jose Peraza solo homer started a three-run fourth inning that also included a two-run double by Brandon Dixon. Two more runs came in during the fifth on a sac fly by Friday’s walkoff hero, Phillip Ervin, with the second run coming home on a throwing error by Steven Duggar.

Bumgarner allowed three doubles and a pair of homers, with the second homer coming from Dilson Herrera in the sixth to stretch the lead to 6-0. A seventh run scored for Cincinnati (54-69) in the seventh inning when Hunter Strickland made his return from the disabled list after an injury suffered when he punched a wall. Scooter Gennett hit the Reds’ fourth double of the night and came home on an Eugenio Suarez RBI single.

On the other side of things, Matt Harvey looked like the ace that he was a few years ago, holding San Francisco (61-63) scoreless over 6 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out five, and managed to maneuver out of tight situations throughout his 98-pitch outing.

A Suarez error and a walk put two men on with one out in the fourth, and a balk put both runners in scoring position while taking away the possibility of a double play, but Harvey rebounded by striking out Brandon Belt and getting Evan Longoria to fly out to center field. Two-out singles in the sixth by Joe Panik and Buster Posey would set the table once again for Belt, but he would fly out to end the frame.

The Giants did finally break through against the Cincinnati bullpen in the eighth, but they would settle for just one run after loading the bases to start the frame. Cody Reed, acquired by the Reds when they dealt Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals, allowed the visitors to load the bases with a pair of hits and a walk, but Michael Lorenzen, known more for his ability as a pinch-hitter, would limit the damage. He struck out Austin Slater and allowed just one run to score on Longoria’s force out. Brandon Crawford would strike out with men on the corners to leave the Giants with just a single run for the second straight night.

After winning the first two matchups with the Reds during a May series at AT&T Park, the Giants are now in danger of losing the season series to Cincinnati. To salvage the finale at Great American Ball Park and split the season set, they’ll need a good start from Andrew Suarez, who will be faced with a former Giants farmhand, Luis Castillo. Castillo made his way to the Reds after the Giants traded him to the Miami Marlins in a deal that sent Casey McGehee to San Francisco.

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