Bumgarner's pinch-hit sparks Giants' rally

Pitcher singles, scores insurance run in victory over Cardinals

Bumgarner's pinch-hit sparks Giants' rally

ST. LOUIS -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters Monday that he thought about using lefty ace Madison Bumgarner as a designated hitter earlier this season. One night later, Bumgarner showed why.

With Hunter Pence (left oblique) unavailable, leaving the Giants with a short bench, Bochy sent Bumgarner up as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the seventh during Tuesday's game against the Cardinals. Bumgarner rewarded his manager's confidence in him with a single that ignited a rally to give the Giants an insurance run in a 2-0 win.

"Yeah, now we've got to hear it from him for a few days saying how easy that was," Bochy said. "Good at-bat, good two-out rally. Getting that second run, that's huge."

Bumgarner's hit, a 3-1 pitch lined into left, was actually the Giants' lone hit of the inning. Gregor Blanco and Matt Duffy worked walks, chasing Cardinals starter Lance Lynn from the game, and Bumgarner scored when Randy Choate hit Brandon Belt with the bases loaded.

"Good at-bats by Blanco and Duffy working those walks there," Bochy said. "It's nice getting that second run. ... I think it takes a little pressure off the pitcher. One mistake it's a tie ballgame, so it gives them a little room for error."

It was Bumgarner's first hit in five career pinch-hit appearances. He is batting .259 (14-for-54) with four home runs and seven RBIs this season.

Bumgarner is the first Giants pitcher to have a pinch-hit since Kirk Rueter did it against the Expos on Aug. 17, 2004.

"He's a really good hitter," Pence said of Bumgarner. "He puts on good at-bats and dangerous at-bats; he can hit homers. It was pretty cool to see."

Though unconventional, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny understood the move.

"I didn't expect that," Matheny said. "But they're in the same spot we are; they have limited guys on their bench as well. The last at-bat he had, I think he hit a home run. I get it."

Ryan Vogelsong, who was lifted for Bumgarner, expects to hear about it.

"I probably would have gotten a hit," Vogelsong quipped.

But Vogelsong added, "It's surprising for a guy that doesn't get to hit that much, some of the pitches that he takes and is able to lay off of, and he puts the ball in play a ton. He doesn't strike out very much. It's impressive."

Bumgarner is three for his last four, with a double and a homer during that stretch.

Bochy said Bumgarner could be used in the same role in the series finale against the Cardinals on Wednesday. The Giants figure to still be short without Pence.

"We'll probably go like that one more day," Bochy said. [Nori Aoki's] ready to go the first game in Pittsburgh [on Thursday]. We had [Bumgarner] ready. Just wanted to make sure he was stretched out and took some swings."

Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.