ATLANTA — Madison Bumgarner found the delivery he says he has sought for a year and a half.
Bumgarner won his sixth straight decision to match a career best and hit a two-run homer in a six-run fifth inning that led the Giants over the Atlanta Braves 6-0 Thursday.
Bumgarner (7-2) allowed four hits in 7.2 innings, struck out 11 and walked two, lowering his ERA to 1.91. The NL West-leading Giants have won 17 of their last 21 games and are unbeaten in Bumgarner’s last eight starts.
“It’s the best I’ve felt all year,” Bumgarner said. “My delivery — today was the first time probably in a year and a half it has felt like that, and felt it was pretty much where I want it. I’ve been working on the delivery, trying to nail it down. It hasn’t been far off, obviously, but it hasn’t been exactly what I wanted. Today it was close to that.”
Catcher Buster Posey said Bumgarner’s outing was among his top performances this season.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game for a reason,” Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman said. “He definitely showed that today.”
Bumgarner also hit his second homer this season and 13th of his career, a 411-foot drive into the left-field seats. He reached double digits in strikeouts for the 28th time during the regular season, including three this year.
Hunter Strickland and Chris Stratton followed with hitless relief.
Joe Panik and Buster Posey also hit two-run homers in the fifth inning off Aaron Blair (0-4). Bumgarner and Panik connected following walks and Posey after Matt Duffy was hit by a pitch.
Eight straight Giants reach in the fifth against Blair and Eric O’Flaherty. Blair allowed six runs, five hits and four walks in four-plus innings.
“When you give him a leads like that, it’s lights out,” Atlanta’s Jeff Francoeur said.
San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game because of a right hamstring injury that could keep him out longer than two weeks. He missed six starts with another right hamstring injury before returning on Saturday. He then pulled up when running to first base in Wednesday night’s game.
Giants outfielder Mac Williamson was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to fill Pence’s roster spot.
Pence’s seven home runs are tied for the team lead. Giants outfielder Angel Pagan is on the disabled list with a left hamstring injury.
Coming off a week in which he was 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA, Johnny Cueto is slated to start at St. Louis on Friday. He is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 20 starts against the Cardinals.