LOS ANGELES -- Tuesday had the makings of a successful night for Madison Bumgarner. He fulfilled the primary goal of every starting pitcher by keeping the score close, and he reached a franchise standard for strikeouts that has been scaled by a select few.
But that told only part of the tale that Bumgarner spun against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes, the Giants remained competitive under his watch, but he also was scored upon in four of the five innings he worked. Speaking of those five innings, the Giants surely hoped that the man they consider their ace would have lasted longer in their 9-5 loss in the opener of a three-game showdown.
"He wasn't Bum-like," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after his club fell two games behind Los Angeles in the National League West standings. "He wasn't quite himself. That was pretty evident."
Bumgarner (12-8) allowed a season-high five earned runs along with nine hits. That dropped his record in his last four starts against the Dodgers to 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA.
"I didn't feel like it was too terribly bad," Bumgarner said of his outing. "But it seemed like every time I did miss, they put the bat on the ball and found a hole or a gap. It was a rough one."
Bumgarner at once downplayed and lamented his recent ill luck against the Dodgers: "It doesn't make a difference what team it is. You don't want that to happen."
It did, though Bochy isn't worried about Bumgarner losing confidence or commanding less faith from teammates.
"I don't get concerned about that with Bum. Not at all," Bochy said. "There's nobody tougher than Bum. They [the Dodgers] just did a good job tonight."
Bumgarner left Dodger Stadium with some reward. He struck out his 200th batter of the season in the fourth inning, becoming the fifth pitcher in Giants history to accumulate at least that many strikeouts in three or more consecutive seasons.
Among the others to accomplish this feat, three are Hall of Famers: Amos Rusie (1890-93), Juan Marichal (1963-66) and Christy Mathewson (1903-05). The fourth is two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (2008-11).
Records aside, the Giants seek a turnaround from Bumgarner, who has lasted only five innings in three of his last five starts. During that span, his ERA is 4.20 and he has allowed 30 hits in 30 innings.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.