SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Following up Matt Cain's five shutout innings a day earlier, Madison Bumgarner was nearly as good Saturday, pitching five strong innings of his own 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, allowed just two hits, a walk and a run and struck out two in his fifth spring start.
The left-hander, 23, 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 one 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 eventually scored on an infield groundout.
To cap his afternoon, Bumgarner lined a double into the left-field corner when Bochy let him bat even though Bumgarner was done pitching for the day.
"I thought they were going to pinch-hit me," he said. "I got lucky and slapped one down the line."
Pablo Sandoval drove in two runs with a single and a double 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.