LOS ANGELES – Madison Bumgarner's infield chopper didn't travel nearly as far as the home run off fellow left-hander Clayton Kershaw's bat the day before. But it – along with Bumgarner's performance on the mound – was just as effective.
A night after Kershaw blanked the Giants on Opening Day, Bumgarner returned the favor over eight shutout innings in a 3-0 win over the Dodgers. He then watched Sergio Romo pitch a scoreless ninth.
Bumgarner allowed a two-out double to Andre Ethier in the second inning, then set down the next 18 hitters in a row before A.J. Ellis doubled with two outs in the eighth. He struck out pinch hitter Nick Punto looking to end the inning and popped his glove as he left the mound.
For the second straight start against the Dodgers, Bumgarner threw eight scoreless innings. In his last six starts against the Dodgers, he is 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA.
"That kid, he's special," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Coming off a loss, you're hoping your starter goes out there and does that, and he did it."
It was a much different Bumgarner than the pitcher who spent much of last August and September out of whack mechanically, working with pitching coach Dave Righetti into the playoffs to figure out a fix. He attacked the Dodgers hitters with fastballs and didn't have his first three-ball count until the sixth inning.
"He seemed like he was in control from start to finish," catcher Buster Posey said.
Bumgarner said Tuesday was "probably the best I've felt in a long time, which was odd. Usually, it don't work out too good the first start of the year, really the first month of the year, usually.
"It feels good to get started on a good note."
Like Kershaw, Bumgarner also helped himself with the bat. With Bumgarner due up in a 1-0 game in the seventh and runners on second and third with one out, the Dodgers lifted South Korean rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu from his major-league debut and brought in reliever Ronald Belisario.
Bumgarner had already singled off Ryu. Against Belisario, he hit a chopper that shortstop Justin Sellers fielded and threw wildly home. Joaquin Arias slid across followed by Andres Torres, who scored easily as Belisario forgot to cover the plate.
The Giants had nine hits in the first five innings against Ryu but scored just once. They hit into four double plays, two by Posey, though Posey scored the first run in the fourth when he singled, advanced on Hunter Pence's single and scored on Arias' single.
Arias started at first base with Brandon Belt out with a virus, had two hits and equipped himself well defensively, scooping several throws out of the dirt. Playing Arias at first allowed Bochy to keep Pablo Sandoval at third, and Sandoval made two backhanded stabs to take away hits.
Et cetera – Bochy said he hopes Belt, who has been sick for several days and received an IV when he got to the stadium Tuesday, will be healthy enough to play today. He said in hindsight he might have rested Belt on Monday, when Belt went 0 for 3.
Tim Lincecum said he is "itching at the bit" for his first start today and a chance to further put last season behind him. After a tumultuous spring – he was limited by a blister and posted a 10.57 ERA – Lincecum said his last bullpen session was encouraging and he's starting the season in a positive frame of mind.
"Coming off a lackluster year for me last year, coming back and surprising myself in a way and surprising some people would be a big thing for me," Lincecum said. "We'll see what happens, but I've got a lot of optimism and a lot of confidence right now."