SAN FRANCISCO -- No offense to the All-Star Game, but the one thought in Giants starter Madison Bumgarner's head Saturday was returning his team to the win column after its worst stretch in seven years.
Manager Bruce Bochy even told Bumgarner a day ahead of time that he would be on the National League roster in the Midsummer Classic so he could focus on a Dodgers squad that had run off four consecutive victories against the Giants. Bumgarner thanked his manager by twirling one of the best outings of the season in a 4-2 San Francisco win.
"[I was focused on] the win, for sure," Bumgarner said. "That's a huge honor for the All-Star Game, too, but we really needed a win today."
Bumgarner, who pitched his fifth consecutive quality start, commanded the strike zone all afternoon and retired the first 14 Dodgers; he didn't walk a Los Angeles hitter during his seven masterful innings.
"The mechanics felt pretty good," he said. "There weren't a lot of situations where I had to be really careful, and that makes it easier to challenge guys more often."
Bumgarner even chipped in at the plate with two RBIs -- one on a second-inning bases-loaded walk and the other on a fourth-inning sacrifice fly. His walk plated the game's first run, but only after a rare sequence took a run off the board for the Giants in the bottom of the first.
In a microcosm of the frustration the Giants have experienced in recent weeks, Buster Posey batted out of order in the bottom of the first inning, a snafu that cost San Francisco an early 1-0 advantage. Posey rifled a double into the right-field corner that momentarily scored Gregor Blanco, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly appealed to the umpires. As a result, Pablo Sandoval -- officially listed in the No. 3 position -- was charged with a groundout to the catcher without stepping to the plate, and Posey batted again and this time flied out to end the first without scoring a run.
"I just said at that point, what else?" Bochy said. "At that point, you just want to win the game."
It was a what-else-can-go-wrong moment for the Giants, but ultimately it did not keep the club from winning for just the second time since June 22 and evening the series with the rival Dodgers.
"That's tough, but you can't be thinking about that stuff," said Bumgarner, who has put distractions aside and won consistently this season. He's now 6-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 starts this season after a San Francisco loss. The Giants have won just six of their past 21 games, and Bumgarner started four of those victories.
The Giants scored three of their four runs the next inning and barely left the infield to do so. When Marco Scutaro -- the seventh batter of the inning -- recorded a sacrifice fly to score Brandon Crawford as the inning's third run, it marked the first ball of the inning that made it to the outfield. The Giants' baserunners reached on a hit batsman, an infield single, a throwing error on a fielder's choice and Bumgarner's RBI walk.
Bumgarner's early bid for a perfect game ended when Andre Ethier reached on a single that landed just in front of left fielder Andres Torres. Two pitches later, Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz launched a two-run home run that narrowed San Francisco's lead to 4-2.
Before the pair of hits in the fifth, Bumgarner's day was unblemished. He cruised through the first four innings with six strikeouts, and no Dodger earned a three-ball count against the left-hander until Ethier in the fifth. In all, he allowed just three hits and struck out nine, three of which came against rookie sensation Yasiel Puig. Bumgarner became the first pitcher to strike Puig out three times in a game, and closer Sergio Romo registered the fourth in the ninth.
The only other time the Dodgers threatened came in the sixth when Hanley Ramirez tripled to left field, but Sandoval threw him out at home plate on the next play to keep the Giants ahead by two runs.
"I felt like it was one of the cleaner games we've played in a while," Posey said.
It wasn't exactly an overpowering performance, but after losing 10 of 11 games, falling seven games under .500 and falling 5 1/2 games behind the first-place D-backs -- all season worsts -- the focus was on returning to the win column Saturday.