SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants ace Madison Bumgarner has been excellent this season, but he can't do it all on his own. Despite his eight innings with two runs allowed, it was still enough to be overcome by the Reds, who left town with a 2-1 victory and two of three games in the series. San Francisco has lost nine of 11 games since the All-Star break but clings to a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League West.
"It's disappointing when you have your starter throw like that," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "Just couldn't get it going offensively. That's a tough one."
Bumgarner, who is 10-6 with a 2.09 ERA this season, allowed five hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. He has a 1-2 record and 2.00 ERA in his past five starts, but has received a total of 11 runs in support during that span. The Giants didn't put a single runner in scoring position Wednesday. It was a 1-1 game when red-hot Jay Bruce slugged a first-pitch fastball for a leadoff home run to right field to put the Reds ahead.
"I just didn't make a good pitch," said Bumgarner. "The way he's going right now, he's not going to miss those."
"With Madison, he's an ace in every sense of the word," Bruce said. "The bottom line when it comes down to it, if he gives you a pitch to hit, you better do something with it. I was able to do that today. He really made one mistake all day and I was able to hit a home run. You have to be aggressive with him. He's a strike-thrower and he's going to give you something to hit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hotter than a match: Bruce's long ball vs. Bumgarner gave him six in the last five games and tied a club record by having at least one home run in five straight games. The feat has been accomplished seven times for the team, most recently by Devin Mesoraco in 2014. Bruce, the frequent subject of trade rumors, has 25 homers for the season, moving him into a tie for the team lead. Bruce did not take any time to reflect on how well he's been hitting lately.
"God no. Man, when I crossed home plate I was figuring out if I was going to face [Josh] Osich or [Javier] Lopez the next at-bat," Bruce said. "You don't have time to do that. You do that in this game and it's too late. There's no time for that."
Leading off: Straily breezed through the first two innings, retiring the first six Giants batters he faced. But Conor Gillaspie opened the bottom of third with a liner into the right-field arcade to break the scoreless tie after a crew-chief review confirmed the ball cleared the wall before bouncing back onto the field. It was Gillaspie's fourth home run of the season and the third consecutive game in which the Giants scored the first run -- something they failed to do once while on their eight-game road trip after the All-Star break.
"He left it up," said Gillaspie. "Most of the other pitches I saw were good quality pitches in good spots. You tip your cap."
Possible game saver? With Pagan on first base after a single off Tony Cingrani, Mac Williamson scorched a grounder up the middle. Shortstop Zack Cozart made a nice diving stop to his left and flipped to second base for the force play. It kept a speedy runner out of scoring position and helped Cingrani finish the inning cleanly for his 12th save.
"He's into his defense every moment that he's on the field. It's sensational to watch, it really is," Red manager Bryan Price said of Cozart. "He was ready to make that play. How big is that?"
Posey's blast doesn't carry:Buster Posey came to the plate in the ninth with a runner on first and crushed a fly ball to center field. If it carried far enough, it would have served as a game-winning home run. Instead, the Reds' Billy Hamilton corralled it near the warning track to give Cincinnati the second out of the inning. The Giants are 0-36 when trailing after eight innings this year.
"I've seen that ball soar out of here so many times," said Gillaspie. "I thought that was game over."
"When you look at the whole body of work, we're driving in runs, pitchers are throwing strikes, the bullpen has been much more reliable and we're playing better defense. That mix of things gives us the opportunity to stay in more games and in this case like today, win them late." -- Price on the Reds' recent success. They've won eight of 12 games and four straight series.
In the seventh inning, Pagan appeared to make a nice sliding catch on Adam Duvall's fly ball to left field. After the Reds challenged the call, the replay official determined the ball made contact with the ground before going into the glove. Duvall, who had hustled to second base on the play, was placed at first base with a single.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds:Following an off-day Thursday, the Reds will open a three-game series at 10:40 p.m. ET Friday vs. the Padres at Petco Park. Brandon Finnegan will get the start and try to work deeper into the game. Finnegan has a four-game streak where he hasn't gotten an out in the sixth inning.
Giants: The Giants open a four-game series with the National League East-leading Washington Nationals at 7:15 p.m. PT Thursday at AT&T Park. Johnny Cueto, who pitched a complete game in his last appearance at home, will be on the mound for San Francisco.