Pirates miss best chance against MadBum

Pirates miss best chance against MadBum

PITTSBURGH -- A predicament -- looking up at Madison Bumgarner from a four-run second-inning hole -- appeared to be turning into a possibility for the Pirates.

They had the storied left-hander on a very narrow ledge. But when they couldn't push him over, the Giants' ace shoved back, hard, dooming the Bucs to a 6-4 loss on Friday night.

Bumgarner, who worked with a 5-1 lead after his second-inning two-run homer, had given up a first-inning run on three hits and began the second issuing a walk to Michael Morse -- his second free pass in 39 2/3 innings -- allowing a single to Sean Rodriguez and starting off counterpart Jeff Locke with a 3-0 count. Clearly, Bumgarner wasn't throwing his best stuff. But he was good enough to throw up a blockade.

Kang's RBI single

Third-base coach Rick Sofield flashed the take sign -- once. But Locke took two called strikes, then feebly bunted through the next pitch to whiff.

"Left-handers don't see the ball very well out of his hand. That's why we started all right-handers," said Locke, the only lefty hitter in the Bucs' lineup. "But you've still got to get the job done. I didn't tonight."

Next, Josh Harrison anticipated getting some better swings off against Bumgarner. Harrison, fresh off the DL after recovering from left thumb surgery, had begun his first big league game since July 5 by striking out on three pitches in the first.

In the second, Harrison felt settled in and was getting better looks. "Two pretty good pitches that I fouled off," he said. The third pitch was a ball. The fourth took the bat out of his hand by hitting him in the leg.

With the bases now loaded, Starling Marte hit a high chopper which became a force at second -- but also a run. Andrew McCutchen then hit a hard grounder to short that ended the inning.

Bumgarner continued to retire the next 12 batters, too, into the seventh inning.

"We had a couple of push situations on him, but weren't able to push through," said manager Clint Hurdle, who lauded Bumgarner as "a fierce competitor who finds a way to get things done.

"He still worked the fastball up and in at times, but not as much as we've seen in the past," Hurdle added. "He attacked us in a different way than we've seen before. His breaking ball and changeup played more."

Ramirez's run-scoring single

Confirming that observation was the one guy in Pittsburgh's lineup with a solid track record against Bumgarner. But even Aramis Ramirez, previously a .333 hitter with four extra-base knocks (three doubles and a homer), wore an 0-for-3 collar from him.

"I thought he threw more breaking balls than usually," said Ramirez, who logged an RBI single in the eighth off Sergio Romo. "But he always does a little bit of that, mixing pitches.

"He's tough, man. Look at his career, his resume. He's a tough cookie. It's hard to overcome a big early lead when you have a guy like Bumgarner on the mound."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.