Monday, October 27, 2014
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Bumgarner shines as Giants stride toward glory

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[October 27, 2014]  By Larry Fine
 
 SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Madison Bumgarner proved his big-game brilliance with a four-hit shutout of the Kansas City Royals on Sunday that put him into the Fall Classic record books and the Giants within a win of the title.

The young lefty lifted the Giants to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven with a 5-0 win that moved an AT&T Park crowd to chant "M-V-P, M-V-P" in a farewell to Bumgarner as Major League Baseball's championship shifts to Kansas City for its climax.

Bumgarner, 25, struck out eight without a walk, lowered his career World Series earned run average to a record 0.29, and improved his Fall Classic record to 4-0.

"I felt great," said Bumgarner, who dominated the Royals 7-1 in San Francisco's opening game victory in Kansas City.

"I'm just happy we won. That was a big game for us being tied up 2-2."

Patience from Giants manager Bruce Bochy paid off after he stuck to his rotation and did not bring Bumgarner back a day early to start Friday's Game Four, which San Francisco won 11-4.

One day before that, a report surfaced that Bumgarner had demanded to start Game Four on short rest rather than wait for Game Five, something the pitcher denied.

"I'm good with whatever (Bochy) wants to do this time of year. You have to be ready to go whenever you're called on," Bumgarner told reporters.

"He's the boss, he makes the decisions," added the pitcher, who made it clear he would be available to contribute if the team needed him in a potential Game Seven.

Adhering to the rotation worked wonders on Sunday and San Francisco's second straight victory has them on the brink of claiming their third World Series championship in five years.

It was all made possible by the red-hot Bumgarner, who became the first pitcher to toss a complete-game shutout in the World Series since Josh Beckett in 2003.

"When this guy is on, it's fun to watch," Bochy said. "He had great stuff."

The Giants scored their first run in the second inning when Hunter Pence crossed home on a groundout from shortstop Brandon Crawford, who had three RBIs in the game.

The home team scored another run in the fourth when a single by Crawford plated Pablo Sandoval.

That was more than enough for the masterful Bumgarner, but the Giants piled on three runs in the eighth with defensive outfield replacement Juan Perez belting a two-run double high of the center field fence to send the crowd into a frenzy.

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PRESSURE OFF

San Francisco enjoyed an offensive explosion in Game Four with 11 runs on 16 hits, but they managed on far less with their standout on the mound. "You look at (Bumgarner) and he looks like he's pitching in the middle of June," Crawford said. "He takes the pressure off everyone."

Sandoval and Pence, stalwarts in the middle of the Giants lineup, each had two hits and two runs scored in the victory.

Kansas City starter James Shields had a solid outing, yielding two runs on eight hits over six innings but was no match for Bumgarner.

The Royals entered the World Series as an amazing Cinderella story, having gone undefeated through the playoffs to reach the title series. Kansas City is looking for a first World Series since 1985 and have run into a huge challenge in trying to get over the line.

Typically known for their stellar defense, the Royals were let down in the field when shortstop Alcides Escobar failed on a pair of tricky plays that led to runs in the second and fourth innings.

"They were difficult plays. (But) If he catches those balls it's probably 0-0 going into the eighth," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

"We have to walk a tightrope now without a net. If we fall off we're dead."

(Additional reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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