(The Sports Xchange) - San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner retired the first 23 batters he faced before settling for a one-hit shutout in an 8-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday, with the Giants ace admitting the result was more important than personal glory.
“I’m not here to throw perfect games or no-hitters,” the reigning World Series Most Valuable Player assured after the third one-hit shutout of his career. “They’re special. But nothing is going to get in the way of winning the game.”
Center fielder Angel Pagan and first baseman Brandon Belt smacked solo home runs, and right fielder Marlon Byrd drove in three runs with three hits, helping the Giants (74-68) keep pace with the Los Angeles Dodgers (81-60) atop the NL West.
The Dodgers lead the Giants by 7 1/2 games with 20 games remaining.
The home run for Belt, which capped the scoring in the seventh inning, was his career-high 18th of the season but he left no doubt over what he considered was the most powerful feat of the night.
“It felt like it to me, the way he was getting guys out,” Belt responded when asked if he thought this might be the night Bumgarner recorded the elusive no-hitter or perfect game.
“You know it’s something that’s going to happen. We’re just waiting on it.”
Bumgarner (18-7) took a perfect game two outs into the eighth before Padres pinch-hitter Melvin Upton Jr lined a single to center field on a 2-1 pitch.
For Upton, it was a chance to keep from being on the losing end of a perfect game for a fourth time in his career.
“I was trying to get him on the plate, trying to have a good at-bat,” Upton said. “He threw fastballs and kind of left one over the plate a little bit, and I didn’t try to do too much with it.”
Bumgarner retired the next four Padres in order to finish off his fourth complete game of the season and second shutout. He had a complete-game three-hitter in a 5-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Aug. 16.
He also took a perfect game into the eighth last season against the Colorado Rockies, only to surrender an inning-opening double to first baseman Justin Morneau.
“I’m sure he’s disappointed,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Bumgarner. “But he didn’t show it.”
Afterward, Bumgarner insisted his manager was incorrect.
“No, no, no,” he insisted when asked if there was even a hint of disappointment in his outing. “If there was, I wouldn’t tell you. But there isn’t.”
Editing by John O'Brien