Madison Bumgarner kept making good pitches and the Cincinnati Reds kept hitting them. One bad inning turned an otherwise sparkling effort into another dull thud.
Bumgarner gave up five runs in the fifth and the San Francisco Giants could not solve the major league leader in ERA, falling to Johnny Cueto and the Reds 6-2 on Friday night.
Bumgarner (9-5) needed just 53 pitches to get through four scoreless innings and then threw 26 in the fifth, allowing all five of his runs as the Reds sent 10 men to the plate.
“There might have been a couple that weren’t good pitches but for the most part we were making pitches and they kept hitting them,” Bumgarner said. “I kept focusing on the next guy but I had a hard time getting out of it and that was the game. It was frustrating more than anything.”
The NL West-leading Giants lost for the 13th time in 17 games. Their once commanding 9 1/2-game lead has dwindled to two after losing for the 10th time in 12 home games.
“It’s hard to say if you’re not hitting when you’re facing a pitcher who is throwing the ball so well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Bum was pitching well. They put some balls where we couldn’t get to them.”
Cueto (8-5) pitched a three-hitter over 8 1-3 innings and the Reds won their third straight and sixth of seven overall.
Cueto walked two and struck out three, allowing both runs and raising his majors-leading ERA from 1.86 to 1.88.
“We raised his ERA,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “That goes to show you just how good he is.”
Pinch hitter Tyler Colvin tripled to drive in the Giants’ first run in the sixth and later scored on Hunter Pence’s groundout.
Cueto faced the minimum over the first four innings. Pablo Sandoval reached on second baseman Brandon Phillip’s first error in 69 games and was erased on a double play in the second.
Reds’ shortstop Zack Cozart robbed Sandoval of a hit with two runners on in the ninth. Cozart got to a ball deep in the hole and managed to force a hustling Pence at third.
“I’m not going to throw anyone out, even Panda, if I have to go deep,” Cozart said. “I have no shot at second or first, so I’m going to third.”
The play kept the tying run from coming to the plate in the form of Michael Morse, who struck out against Chapman to end the game.
The key play in the fifth was the failure to get an out on Cueto’s bunt, which was fielded cleanly by catcher Buster Posey. He threw late to third, loading the bases and opening the floodgates.
NOTES: RHP Alfredo Simon (10-3, 2.92) starts for the Reds on Saturday night. He’s 7-1 in nine starts on the road. RHP Matt Cain (1-6, 4.82) is scheduled to start for the Giants. He’s 2-3 in five outings against the Reds at home. … Bumgarner became the first Giants pitcher to record two pickoffs in the same inning since Bud Black did it in May of 1992. … 1B Brandon Belt was hit by a pitch and hit a home run in his second rehab game in San Jose. … INF Marco Scutaro played three innings at 2B for the AZL Giants, going hitless in two at bats.
Updated June 28, 2014