DENVER -- Coors Field proved to be as unpredictable as the spring weather in Colorado. Two days after Barry Zito's shutout and a day after the Giants and Rockies combined for 25 runs on 34 hits, Madison Bumgarner took a no-hitter into the sixth as the Giants won the game, 4-2, and won their first series of the season.
"Overall great ballgame," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Bumgarner, what a job he did. He wasn't trying to strike guys out. He went back to pitching, unlike his last start where he was overhyped and overthrowing. He did a great job. We had some good at-bats today [against Jamie] Moyer. The guys were a little more patient than the last time we saw him."
Bumgarner, 22, was masterful on the mound against the veteran Moyer, 49, a man who made his Major League debut three years before Bumgarner was born and who stifled the Giants' bats with four perfect innings when he faced them in a Spring Training game late in March. The age differential was the third-largest in Major League history, with Satchel Paige's appearances at age 59 and 47 occupying the top two spots.
"I can see why he's still successful -- he's tough to hit," Bumgarner said of Moyer. "He knows how to pitch. He's a competitor. He competes as hard as anybody. That's what I noticed today. He gets just as fired up as anybody does. He wants to win."
But it was a tough call for an opposing pitcher to garner a win against Bumgarner on Thursday. He was efficient and effective, dominating the Rockies to such a degree that after leadoff hitter Marco Scutaro flied out to center to open the first frame, no Rockies player hit a ball out of the infield until Tyler Colvin's sixth-inning triple broke up the no-hit bid.
"I was trying to get quick outs, keep us in there," Bumgarner said. "We had a four-run lead, try to keep it at that. I was trying to make pitches instead of trying to strike people out on the first pitch of the at-bat."
Bumgarner allowed a pair of walks in the first five innings, but the Rockies were hitless until Colvin's first at-bat after entering the game in a double-switch for Moyer. Colvin sent a sinking liner to left that Melky Cabrera dove forward for but missed as the ball bounded past him. Colvin ran it out for a triple and scored two batters later on a Dexter Fowler single to left."
Bumgarner's 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball gave the Giants a pair of quality starts to bookend the Rockies series, and with the offense thriving, scoring at least four runs in every game of the season after only scoring four runs in one-third of their games last year, the winning combination was firmly in place.
"That's our game," Bochy said. "That's what we count on, is a quality start. That means we've had a chance to win a ballgame. We've done a pretty good job with the offense, but pitching has gone awry at times. The guys are bouncing back off two of the toughest losses that you can have, one with the six-run lead that we lost [Saturday in Arizona] and of course getting pummeled [Wednesday] night. They came back and bounced back well."
The Giants built a 4-0 lead through the first 5 1/2 innings, scattering eight hits against Moyer and lumping three together in the third frame to get on the scoreboard. Pablo Sandoval started the rally with a one-out single over second base, and Buster Posey and Brett Pill followed with two more base knocks to push a run across.
"I threw way too many pitches early in the game," Moyer said. "I made a lot of good pitches by the end of it. The ball that Pill hit off the end of the bat is kind of a backbreaker for me. I'd rather have them hit line drives than off the end of the bat, but that's the game."
The Giants added a run in the fourth when Brandon Crawford got his second of two hits on the day and Cabrera plated him with a single up the middle. They put two unearned runs on their tally when Fowler dropped Ryan Theriot's fly ball to center to open the sixth. Angel Pagan plated him with a two-out single to left, and Cabrera's double to right capped the scoring as Pagan raced home.
"We're just trying to get good at-bats every time and put the ball in play when you've got a man in scoring position," said Pagan, who entered the game hitting .111 as the Giants' leadoff hitter. "It's a young season. I can't think about hitting .100. I was going 0-for-3 and I got the big knock for the team. That's what you're looking for. Believe in yourself, play hard every time, and I think it will fall in place."
After a 13-pitch at-bat from Colvin in the eighth, Sergio Romo came in to relieve Bumgarner, getting the second out of the inning before walking Fowler. Javier Lopez came in to face the left-handed Carlos Gonzalez, inducing a grounder to second to end the threat.
"[Lopez was] huge," Bochy said. "Tough out. You hate to see a walk before Gonzalez comes up, but we did it. That's a huge out -- it probably won the game for us, to be honest. The heart of their order. We got the out we needed and kept it a three-run lead."
Brian Wilson came on for the ninth, allowing three singles to load the bases then walking Colvin to push a run home. He turned his ankle on the second pitch to Colvin, but said it was "no big deal," calling it a "non-factor." He got Scutaro to pop up to right to end the game, notching his first save of the season. "The results were fine," Wilson said. "The bullpen did what was necessary in order for Bumgarner to get the win."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.