SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Madison Bumgarner fully expected the silent treatment from his teammates after hitting the first home run of his major league career.
He received the cold shoulder in the San Francisco dugout only briefly before being mobbed by Pablo Sandoval and others, another highlight in what is shaping up to be a stellar season for the young left-hander.
Bumgarner had a season-high 12 strikeouts and his home run provided the biggest blow for the Giants’ offense in a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
“I was definitely aware,” Bumgarner said of the quiet reception he received following his home run. “They’ve been giving me (grief) since about the first day here since I haven’t hit one. I’d just about give up on it but I ran into one finally.”
Bumgarner connected on a 2-1 pitch from Houston starter Bud Norris leading off the third inning. It’s the first home run by any San Francisco player at AT&T Park since May 14.
Before Bumgarner went deep off Norris, the Giants had gone 16 consecutive games at AT&T Park without a home run to tie the longest streak in the majors since Cleveland’s 17-game homerless skid in 1983.
“He’s probably got the most power on the pitching staff, incredible power really,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I know in BP he’s trying to shorten things up and not swing so hard. It’s good to see him get one.”
Brandon Belt added a two-run homer, Brandon Crawford drove in two runs and Melky Cabrera had two hits and an RBI in his return to the Giants’ lineup.
Bumgarner (8-4) struck out the side in the first, allowed an unearned run in the third following Crawford’s two-out throwing error then kept the Astros in check before leaving in the eighth.
The left-hander reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time in his last five starts, didn’t walk a batter for the third time this season and retired 11 of 13 until pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic’s single leading off the eighth.
Two batters later Brian Bixler hit an RBI double to pull Houston within 4-2 and chase Bumgarner.
Reliever Sergio Romo struck out J.D. Martinez to end the inning, then Bochy used three relievers to close the ninth. Santiago Casilla ended it, retiring pinch-hitter Brett Wallace on a fly out for his 17th save.
As good as Bumgarner was on the mound, he provided a bigger lift at the plate when he tied the game 1-1 and ended the franchise’s longest power drought at home since 1918.
Bumgarner wasn’t sure if the ball would clear the fence so he sprinted out of the batter’s box before slowing into a home run trot.
“I just swing hard in case I hit something,” Bumgarner said. “I wanted to run just in case. I didn’t want to have it hit off the wall.”
Bixler singled, doubled and drove in both runs for Houston, which has lost 12 of its last 16 games.
“He mixes it well,” Houston first baseman Matt Downs said of Bumgarner. “His stuff was lethal.”
San Francisco made it 3-1 on Crawford’s two-run single in the fourth.
Cabrera, who had missed the last three games because of a tight hamstring, singled in Gregor Blanco in the seventh to give the Giants a 4-1 lead. He also singled in the fifth and leads the National League with a .366 average.
Belt hit his first home run of the season in the eighth off reliever Wesley Wright.
It wasn’t all good news for San Francisco.
Sandoval left the game after fouling a ball sharply off his left foot in the eighth. The third baseman had just returned from the disabled list on Saturday.
Norris (5-4) was knocked out of the game early with a sprained left knee, aggravating an injury he first suffered May 31 against Colorado.
The right-hander, who walked three and hit a batter, appeared to get hurt after chasing a pop-up in foul territory in the fourth. Norris was unable to make the catch and nearly collided with Blanco, the on-deck hitter, then slowly walked back to the mound where he met with a team trainer and manager Brad Mills before attempting a few warm-up pitches.
“It’s sore,” Norris said. “I’d feel it every third pitch or so and that last inning it really got to me. The last five steps didn’t help.”
Reliever David Carpenter replaced Norris and pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings but the Astros couldn’t get much going offensively against Bumgarner and fell to 2-2 on their nine-game road trip.