Giants left searching for answers after another wasted Bumgarner start

WASHINGTON — The Giants still have yet to find whatever it is they’ve been looking for in the second half of the season.

On Sunday, the team wasted a Madison Bumgarner gem in a tough-luck 1-0 loss to the Nationals in the rubber match of the series.

Bumgarner pitched superbly, giving up just two hits and one run over eight innings. But a solo shot by Wilson Ramos in the seventh spoiled the game for the Giants’ ace.

The lineup could not quite muster enough offense against the unheralded-yet-effective Tanner Roark, who picked up his 12th win of the season and dropped his ERA below 3.00.

In the fourth, with two outs and Buster Posey on 2nd base, Joe Panik hit a screaming line drive to center, but coach Roberto Kelly held Posey at third, and could only watch as Revere’s throw was several feet away from home plate. After the game, Kelly said that if he probably had to do it again, “I would send him with two outs.”

(For his part, manager Bruce Bochy noted that when you lose 1-0, “you can look at a lot of little things after a loss” in an effort to place blame.)

San Francisco almost took the lead in the 7th on a two-out Brandon Belt bomb to the deepest part of the yard in center field. But Revere made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch to save two runs and preserve the tie. Belt spiked his helmet in frustration after watching his ball land in the glove mere inches in front of the wall. The All-Star first baseman tipped his cap to Revere, and noted after the game, “You can’t do much more than hit a ball 400 feet.”

Moments later, Ramos led off the 7th with his 18th home run of the year, which proved to be the game winner.

Bumgarner rebounded from his worst start of the season last week to throw eight innings of two-hit ball, with seven strikeouts and two walks. The Giants have now lost five straight Bumgarner starts.

Bochy heaped praise on his pitcher after the game, noting that he “pitched his heart out.” While teammate Denard Span said the lefty from North Carolina is the “true definition of a horse.”

Before the game, Bochy had a hard time explaining the Giants offense, which has at times excelled against the league’s best pitchers, while faltering against rookies and unheralded players.

“You try to figure out these things, but sometimes there’s just no rhyme or reason to it,” he said.

Sustaining momentum on the road has been nearly impossible for the Giants in the second half. They will head to Miami for a series that starts today.

Bumgarner’s long outing gave the bullpen the day off. Before the game Bochy admitted that he was “getting a little concerned” for the pen, as he has leaned heavily on them while the starters have struggled to complete innings with only 5 quality starts since the break.

Their series in the nation’s capital featured a little bit of everything — both good and bad — for the Giants, and they leave Washington in essentially the same place as when they arrived. That is, in a rut with few solutions to the small but compounding problems that have been slowing them.

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