ORACLE PARK — When the Giants played their way to a sterling 19-6 month of July, they bought themselves at least a couple more months of Madison Bumgarner.
Now, the longtime San Francisco ace is making the case that he should be part of the club’s long-term future, meriting a lucrative new contract when he hits free agency this offseason.
That case to keep him around an unexpectedly competitive young core only grew stronger Wednesday night, as Bumgarner shut down the San Diego Padres on the way to a 8-3 Giants win, his 60th career victory at Oracle Park, tying him with Matt Cain for most wins at the Giants’ home stadium in franchise history.
“He does bring the game to another level,” said manager Bruce Bochy, now just eight wins away from 2,000 for his career with 28 games to go. “You see the intensity and how hard he competes. That’s what he brings: presence, excitement. I love watching him.”
Though the Giants are essentially irrelevant in the National League playoff picture this late into the season – seven games back of the second NL wild card at 66-68 – Bumgarner has given the team something to look forward to as it builds for the future, leading San Francisco to a 5-1 record in his August starts.
In his latest stalwart outing, he pitched seven one-run innings while allowing only six batters to reach base on four hits and two walks, striking out nine. It was his 11th start of the season in which he allowed four or fewer hits and his 34th straight start with three or fewer free passes.
“When he’s on the mound, we feel like we’re going to win every single game,” said Brandon Belt, who turned in a solid performance of his own with three RBIs and three runs scored.
The effort also took Bumgarner to 176 2/3 innings pitched on the season, a mark that leads the National League.
“If I had to pick the most important thing to me, I would say innings is it,” Bumgarner said. “If you’re throwing a lot of innings and you’re out there, everything else usually takes care of itself.”
The lone run against Bumgarner came on an off-balance solo home run by Manny Machado to lead off the fourth inning, after which the left-hander did not allow another man to reach scoring position, and retired the last seven batters he faced.
“This year has been kind of funny,” Bumgarner said of Machado’s odd longball. “Maybe not funny for pitchers, but funny for everybody else.”
As they have done throughout Bumgarner’s run of quality performances – a 2.81 ERA in 13 starts since June 25, over which the Giants are 11-2 – the San Francisco bats applied constant pressure to the opposing pitching staff, racking up 10 hits and 13 total baserunners en route to six runs.
“It was just a well-played game on both sides,” Bochy said. “The offense came through for us tonight.”
Belt opened the proceedings in the first by smashing a two-run homer over the right field wall, narrowly missing his second consecutive game with a Splash Hit with his 16th long ball of the season.
The bomb was the first of a three-hit night for Belt – which would include an RBI double in the eighth inning – the first time he has recorded at least three hits since July 17 against the Colorado Rockies.
“After the rough past couple months I’ve had, I’m going good now,” said Belt, who has hit .200 over his last 33 games, with 28 strikeouts. “Hopefully I can keep it going.”
Rookie Mike Yastrzemski followed suit in the fifth when he led off the frame with an opposite-field solo shot to restore a two-run Giants lead at 3-1. Yastrzemski is now just two home runs shy of becoming the first Giants rookie to log 20 homers since Dave Kingman in 1972.
Once opposing starter Dinelson Lamet – who struck out 10 Giants batters – left the game after the fifth inning, San Francisco unleashed a hit parade, tallying five consecutive singles in the seventh and three doubles in the eighth to tack on another five runs.
Tony Watson and Tyler Rogers – making just his second-career major league appearance – would each allow a run in their respective innings of work but those scores would prove insignificant in the final score.