SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Following Matt Cain's five shutout innings Friday, Madison Bumgarner was nearly as good Saturday, pitching five strong innings as the Giants lost 7-6 to the Cincinnati Reds in a split-squad game for both clubs.
Bumgarner, who is projected to follow Cain in the season-opening series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on April 2, allowed just two hits, one walk and one run and struck out two in his fifth spring start.
The left-hander has been sharp from the outset of Cactus League play. Bumgarner lowered his ERA to 1.84 and has not allowed a home run in 14 2/3 innings.
"I felt like it was pretty similar (to his last start), but everything felt more in rhythm," Bumgarner said. "Last time I felt like my timing was a little bit out of whack, but I felt good today."
Said manager Bruce Bochy: "It was a good outing for him. This is about the time when these guys start picking it up. He and Matt have back-to-back days where they've been hitting their spots; their secondary pitches have been good. Madison's getting close."
The run Bumgarner allowed came on the first batter he faced. Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, who set a professional baseball record with 155 stolen bases last year in the minor leagues, looped a standup triple into the right-field corner and scored on an infield groundout.
To cap his afternoon, Bumgarner lined a double into the left-field corner. Bochy let Bumgarner bat even though he was done pitching.
"I thought they were going to pinch-hit me," he said. "I got lucky and slapped one down the line."
Pablo Sandoval singled and doubled and drove in one run and raised his spring batting average to .435 (10 for 23).
The 12th spot on the pitching staff is still up for grabs, but veteran right-hander Chad Gaudin continues to bolster his chances as the potential replacement for departed long reliever Guillermo Mota.
Gaudin pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts and lowered his spring ERA to 2.19 in seven appearances covering 12 1/3 innings.
"He's made a strong case," Bochy said." He's throwing the ball well, and he's had a good spring. He can pitch an inning or give us multiple innings. That's something we're looking for, somebody who can be resilient and give us innings."
In another split-squad game Saturday night, the Cleveland Indians beat the Giants 4-3.