By HAL McCOY
The marquee pitcher for the San Francisco-Cincinnati baseball game Wednesday afternoon in AT&T Park was Madison Bumgarner, the Giants practically peerless left hander.
And he was as good as advertise — eight innings, one earned run.
But not good enough.
Cincinnati Reds starter Dan Staily was better in a genuine pitcher’s battle that resulted in a 2-1 Reds victory.
SO THE REDS WON THE series two games to one, their fourth straight 2-to-1 series victory since the All-Star break, the first time they’ve won four straight series since June of 2014.
And what’s a Reds game these days without a home run from Jay Bruce. Yes, he did it again, and it was the game-winner, a solo home run that he crushed in the seventh inning off Bumgarnder that broke a 1-1 tie.
Bruce, the subject of trade talks that seem to be waning, has hit six home runs in his last five games, the first time in his career he has hit home runs in five straight games. He had hit home runs in four straight four times.
STRAILY MATCHED BUMGARNDER pitch for pitch on a pleasant 70-degree day, going 7 2/3 innings and giving up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out five to level his record at 6-6.
Straily started the game by showing who was going to be boss. He struck out the side in the first inning.
His only mistake was a misplaced pitch to Conor Gillaspie, leading off the third. Gillaspie reached the right field seats with a home run to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.
The Reds drew even in the fourth with an aid from Giants left fielder Angel Pagan. With one out, Brandon Phillips stretched his hitting streak to 15 games with a single to left field. Eugenio Suarez drove a ball to left field that Pagan dropped for a two-base error and put runners on second and third with one out. Tucker Barnhart flied to medium-depth right field and Phillips scored after the catch to tie it, 1-1.
THAT’S THE WAY IT STOOD until Bruce did what Bruce does best, a long home run.
Bumgarner, a 10-game winner with a 2.14 earned run average, went eight innings and gave up two runs (one earned), five hits, walked none and struck out nine.
But the struggling Giants, losers in nine of their 11 since the All-Star break, couldn’t help him and Straily made certain they didn’t.
Tony Cingrani started the ninth inning and Pagan opened the inning with a single to left field. Then came big help from the defense.
Mac Williamson hit one toward left center. Shortstop Zack Cozart belly-flopped and speared the ground ball and flipped it to Phillips at second for a force out.
Insead of runners on second and first with no outs, there was one out and a runner on first. Cingrani retired Busty Posey on a long fly ball to the warning track in center field and Brandon Crawford fouled to catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Adam Duvall made a dandy defensive play on Gregor Blanco in the sixth. With one out, Blanco lined one to left and Duvall barged in and made a diving catch off the top of the grass blades. It proved a big catch when Pagan singled to right field.
Third baseman Eugenio Suarez then made a top-shelf stop of Williamson’s blazing ground ball and ended the inning with a force out throw to second base.
STRAILY HAD TWO OUTS and nobody on in the eighth, working on a two-hitter. But when pitcher Bumgarnder singled to left field, manager Bryan Price took no chances. He brought in Raisel Iglesias and he ended the inning on a close-play grounder to second base.
The Reds take a day off Thursday before opening a three-game series Friday night in San Diego.
Meanwhile, those wearing Reds uniforms hold their breath over whether or not Bruce will be a teammate after this weekend before the August 1 non-waivers trade deadline. The entire pitching staff hopes no trade happens.