Double threat: Giants ace gets win vs. A's, starts rally
By Mark Chiarelli and Justin Wise
OAKLAND -- After watching the A's offense surge in the first three games of the series, the Giants took their turn Thursday at the Coliseum, using a six-run third inning to bulldoze their way to a 12-6 victory and avoid a sweep in the Bay Bridge Series.
The rally was spurred by an unlikely source: pitcher Madison Bumgarner. The Giants became the first team to forgo a designated hitter and hit with a pitcher since the White Sox in 1976, and Bumgarner didn't disappoint, rocketing a double to center field in his first at-bat to open the third inning. Six straight batters reached base to start the inning against A's starter Dillon Overton, highlighted by back-to-back homers from Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford.
"He smoked that ball," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "We needed something to ignite this offense and he did it."
Overton said Bumgarner "made him pay" on a pitch up in the zone, and pitched him just as he would a regular position player.
Despite earning the win, Bumgarner's night on the mound wasn't up to his usual standards. He allowed four earned runs for only the second time this season, tying a season high set against the Dodgers on April 15. Yonder Alonso chased Bumgarner in the seventh, hitting a two-run homer down the line in right to make it 8-4. Bumgarner allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Oakland had scored 28 runs through the first three games of the series and have scored six or more in seven straight games. It appeared to be on its way to another strong performance, as Marcus Semien hit his 16th homer of the season in the first inning, but Bumgarner retired nine of his next 11. The A's have homered in nine straight games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bumgarner hit sparks rally: Bumgarner quickly made his presence felt at the plate. The Giants ace led off the third by ripping a double to center field and initiated a rally in which six players crossed home plate before an out was recorded. The scoring barrage was highlighted by a ground-rule double from Brandon Belt with the bases loaded, as well as back-to-back home runs from Posey and Crawford. Bumgarner would even come to the plate a second time in the inning, but popped out to second.
"I was just happy to get a hit," Bumgarner said. "A lot of people had a lot to say about what we did today, and I'm just glad it worked out for us." More >
Overt trouble: Overton took the loss in his second career start, giving up eight runs on eight hits in three-plus innings. He ran into trouble in the third partly due to some bad luck. Bumgarner's double glanced off Billy Burns' glove to open the inning, and two batters later, Angel Pagan lofted a single to left that Coco Crisp couldn't corral in a sliding catch attempt. Unlike Overton's debut Sunday, when the rookie settled down after allowing two first-inning homers to the Angels, it snowballed, and he allowed a three-run homer to Posey and a solo shot to Crawford to make it 6-1.
"Coco had to run a long way for those balls," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And center field, hit right at you on a line, you have to be pretty perfect. Certainly on [Bumgarner's double] he [Burns] made a really good effort on, almost got to it.
Overton allowed eight runs and was optioned back to Triple-A Nashville following the game. More >
Giants give Bumgarner run support: Bumgarner, who received just two combined runs of support in his last two outings, got more than double that by the end of the top of the fourth. Thanks to big days offensively from Belt, Posey and Crawford, who combined for nine RBIs, Bumgarner pitched with a comfortable lead most of the game and recorded his first win since June 14.
"It was definitely nice to do that, when you let Bumgarner settle down and be the pitcher that he is," Belt said.
Yonder goes yard: Alonso hit a homer for the second consecutive game, roping a 92-mph Bumgarner fastball down the line in right to cut the deficit to 8-4 in the seventh. It's the first time Alonso, who has a league-low three among all qualified first basemen, has homered in back-to-back games in his career.
"He swings the bat like he's an everyday position player," Overton said. "He swings it with passion. He swings it hard. He's trying to hit a home run every time he gets up there." -- Overton on Bumgarner
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Giants are the first Major League club since the Chicago White Sox in 1976 to choose to forgo the opportunity to use a designated hitter. The only other time it occurred was in 2009, when the Tampa Bay Rays forfeited the designated hitter due to submitting an incorrect lineup card. In June 1988, Rick Rhoden was the DH for the Yankees on a day he wasn't pitching.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants:Johnny Cueto looks to rebound from one of his worst outings of 2016 when the Giants open their three-game series with the D-backs at Chase Field Friday at 6:40 p.m PT. Cueto, who is 11-1 with a 2.42 ERA, allowed six earned runs Sunday against the Phillies and took a no-decision. He gave up two earned runs and struck out nine in his last start against Arizona this year.
A's:Sonny Gray takes the mound against the Pirates at 7:05 p.m. PT in the first of a three-game series at the Coliseum. Gray's on a five-game losing streak and hasn't won since April 22, but he's posted a 3.23 ERA over his last five starts since coming off the disabled list June 5.