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SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner is an excellent pitcher but a substandard liar. No one is good at everything.

First, Bumgarner the pitcher.

He threw seven innings on Wednesday and beat the Padres and got his seventh win. These are the games the Giants must win — the games when a good pitcher starts, and that means Bumgarner or Matt Cain. Bruce Bochy admits the National League West is a world of its own, evenly-matched teams with deficiencies. It will be a close race among four or even five teams — if the Dodgers get it together — that will continue into September.

Now on to the subject of lying. In the interest of politeness, let's call it fibbing.

When Padres first baseman Jesus Guzman came to the plate in the top of the second, the score 0-0, Bumgarner threw his first pitch behind Guzman's tush. Guzman looked morally outraged. He started walking toward Bumgarner.

And Bumgarner started walking toward Guzman. It's unusual for a pitcher to look for trouble, but there's something of the buckaroo about MadBum. The plate umpire immediately leaped in front of Guzman and so did Buster Posey. Everything would have been hunky dory except, of course, both benches cleared and the players got ready for one of those baseball fights.

Baseball fights usually aren't fights. You'd have to call them non-fights. They are so cute. Guys mill about and look tough but you get the impression they ask each other about their stock portfolios.

Then peace got restored, not that peace was ever in danger, and the Giants got over on the Padres.

Now for the background. On Tuesday night, Guzman had hit a two-run, go-ahead homer off Jeremy Affeldt in the top of the eighth. He whooped it up running around first base, pointing his fist at the heavens.

Whooping it up is against the unwritten code of baseball, an arcane code if there ever was one. The Giants drew the conclusion Guzman showed up Affeldt and showed them up.

In baseball, showing up is the cardinal sin. Baseball is mostly a non-contact sport and the guys aren't tough like football players or boxers. They get their feelings hurt easily, and jealously guard their machismo and demonstrate it when they get a chance in the non-fight fights.

After the game, the fibbing began. It's all part of baseball tradition and it's lovable.

A reporter asked Bochy about the pitch that sailed behind Guzman. Bochy, who's had practice at answering questions like this, who could act on Broadway, never changed his expression. "Hey, what happened, happened," he intoned in the deep, sincere Bochy voice. "Bum's trying to go in, and he wasn't trying to throw the ball behind him."

There may be an ounce of truth in the Bochy statement. Maybe Bumgarner wasn't trying to throw behind Guzman. Maybe he was trying to hit him. But he certainly was sending a message, not that Bochy would admit it.

Call Bochy an A+ fibber.

Now it was Bumgarner's turn. Someone asked if the pitch in question got away.

"I'm not going to comment on that," he said. "There's no need to."

I call that not even trying. The guy works on his slider. He should work on his fibbing. He could have said, "It got away from me and I deeply regret any discomfort I caused Guzman, the Padres organization, the city of San Diego and civilized people everywhere."

I asked why he walked toward Guzman.

"I'm not going to talk about the whole situation," he said, taking the fun out of things.

Posey, more experienced than Bumgarner, got right into the spirit of the drama. Asked what happened on the pitch, Posey deadpanned, "We were just trying to go inside on the guy. He's hurt us out over the plate before."

I want to commend Posey on his answer. He fibbed well — "We were just trying to go inside." But he added something extra. Call it enrichment, the idea that Guzman had hurt the Giants on pitches over the plate and Bumgarner overcompensated inside. Posey is a creative fibber. Bumgarner could learn from him.

Did Posey see Guzman celebrating as he ran the bases?

"I didn't see it, to be honest with you," Posey said. "I was watching the ball."

Whenever anyone says, "to be honest with you," that person is usually not being honest with you.

Cut to the Padres' clubhouse. Manager Bud Black said Bumgarner's pitch was "uncalled for."

Bud Black is one of my favorite people in baseball, but that pitch certainly was called for in the Baseball World. The minute Guzman raised that fist, the Giants had to throw at him, or behind him. In the same situation, Black would have called for the uncalled-for pitch.

Reporters approached Guzman at his locker. Did he expect the pitch in question?

"I (was) surprised," he said, "because I enjoy the moment with my team. It's OK. I will forget this moment."

Why did Guzman walk toward Bumgarner?

"Because it's too obvious to throw the ball like that."

It was the only honest answer anyone gave. Guzman was saying, if I heard him correctly, it would be a mark against his manhood if he didn't take offense at a pitch that blatant. What would his friends think? If Bumgarner only had been more subtle, had thrown a brush-back or a pitch at his toe, he could have dusted himself off and continued the at-bat. But Bumgarner gave him no choice. He had to keep up appearances.

I mentioned Posey said the pitch got away.

Guzman started laughing. It was a hearty laugh. He laughed and laughed. He still was laughing when I left the Padres' clubhouse. He appreciates a good fib.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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