There are no secrets to Hunter Pence’s approach to hitting in crucial situations. His simple strategy worked again.
Pence drove in all of San Francisco’s runs with a double in the ninth and Madison Bumgarner pitched eight scoreless innings to lead the Giants to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
“Just go up to compete, try to see the ball and hit the ball,” Pence said.
Bumgarner (12-7) gave up five hits while striking out six and walking none in a pitchers’ duel with A.J. Burnett.
“It was good to get quick outs tonight,” Bumgarner said.
It was the sixth win in seven games for first-place San Francisco, which moved two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The Giants will look to sweep the four-game series on Thursday.
One night after blowing just his third save in 26 chances, closer Jonathan Papelbon (2-2) took the loss.
The Phillies’ offense, which ranks near the bottom of the NL in several categories, managed just seven hits. They lost their fourth straight and seventh of eight.
“It’s really been the problem we’ve had the last three games, stranding guys out there,” Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. “And it came up big tonight.”
Pence broke a scoreless tie with a softly hit blooper down the right-field line off Papelbon on a full count with two outs.
“Pence is the guy you want up there,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He has the knack of putting the ball in the right place. . Pence is amazing. He has so much energy and he’s relentless. We’re lucky to have him.”
Whether the last two games have an effect on Papelbon’s trade prospects remain to be seen. The Philadelphia closer recently has been outspoken about his interest in moving to a contender.
“Whatever happens happens,” Papelbon said. “I have no control over it.”
He dismissed the notion that his value would be diminished by his last two outings.
“If you were to put the entire season into two games, it would be pretty dumb,” he said.
Marlon Byrd drove in Philadelphia’s run in the ninth off Santiago Casilla, who converted his seventh save in 10 chances.
The game was delayed for 59 minutes by a thunderstorm. Following resumption in the top of the fourth, the game was played in a persistent drizzle that got heavy at times until the rain finally stopped for good in the eighth inning.
Burnett pitched eight scoreless innings, striking out six, walking four and allowing four hits, in a performance that had to have impressed the scouts seated behind home plate. The right-hander has been a rumored acquisition for contending clubs as the Phillies are looking to sell at the trade deadline to get younger.
Bumgarner and Burnett allowed the relievers to rest following Tuesday’s 5-hour, 46-minute marathon in which 16 pitchers were used in the Giants’ 9-6, 14-inning victory.
“What a job he did,” Bochy said of Bumgarner. “He saved our skin tonight. He gave us everything we needed and more. And Burnett too. They were both locked in.”
Some small puddles formed on the left side of the infield, but second base umpire Bill Miller never halted the game again after the first stoppage.
Pence was involved in a strange play in the eighth. After leading off with a walk, he took off for second but overslid the bag. He popped up and rather than try to go back to second, he darted toward third as shortstop Jimmy Rollins chased him in a scene reminiscent of tag on the school yard. About halfway to third, Rollins tossed to third baseman Andres Blanco who applied the tag for an unusual 2-6-5 caught stealing.
It was the second caught stealing in as many attempts for the Giants, as Ehire Adrianza overslid the bag in the sixth and was tagged out by Chase Utley.
NOTES: Burnett moved to 48th all-time in strikeouts, passing Dwight Gooden, with a first-inning fanning of Tyler Colvin. … Philadelphia activated Ruiz (concussion) from the DL. Ruiz had been out since June 26. To make room for Ruiz, the Phillies sent C Cameron Rupp to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Philadelphia also recalled RHP Phillippe Aumont from Lehigh Valley and designated RHP Jeff Manship for assignment. … The teams conclude the four-game series on Thursday with Phillies LHP Cole Hamels (4-5, 2.83) facing RHP Tim Hudson (8-6, 2.78).
Updated July 24, 2014
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