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Giants' Madison Bumgarner close to home, close to perfect

  • Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner works against the Atlanta Braves in the fifth inning on Friday in Atlanta. (JOHN BAZEMORE / Associated Press)

ATLANTA — Madison Bumgarner grew up about four hours from Turner Field, so a start near his North Carolina home brought an onslaught of family and friends to the stands. Bumgarner left about 40 tickets for Friday's game with the Atlanta Braves, and for much of the night, it appeared that he would give his cheering section and everyone else at Turner Field a night they would never forget.

The 23-year-old left-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of a 6-0 win over the Braves before settling for another dominant seven-inning start against the team for which he grew up rooting. In two starts against the Braves this season, Bumgarner has given up one run in 14 innings while striking out 21.

He allowed just two hits Friday night and opened the night with 4 perfect innings.

“This was right up there as far as his best starts, no question,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They're a good hitting ballclub, and he's been right on in the starts he's had against them.”

Bumgarner struck out five of nine the first time through the order and needed just 45 pitches to get through three perfect innings. Asked later about the point at which he started thinking about a no-hitter, Bumgarner deadpanned, “After the first out.”

He got 14 of them before the Braves put a runner on base. B.J. Upton drew a walk with two outs in the fifth, but Bumgarner promptly froze Dan Uggla to record his eighth strikeout. The final pitch to Uggla was the 81st of the night for Bumgarner, setting up a potentially awkward situation for a manager who has long thought his prized left-hander has the stuff and command to throw a no-hitter.

But Bochy never had to make a tough call in the late innings. Chris Johnson led off the sixth with a pop-up to right that dropped between outfielders Gregor Blanco and Hunter Pence and second baseman Tony Abreu. “I think we should have dived for it,” Blanco said. “We should have done something more, but it was in a tough spot. We're going full speed, and it was a tough one. There could have been a collision.”

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