SAN FRANCISCO -- After a 6-4 loss to the San Diego Padres on Monday night, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was asked about the uncharacteristic struggles of opening day starter Madison Bumgarner.
"We're pretty spoiled here with Madison," Bochy said.
That's what makes the slow start so baffling at times for the Giants. Bumgarner lasted just five innings against a short-handed Padres lineup and took his third loss of the month. The left-hander failed to pitch into the sixth inning just three times in 2013 but already has matched that total through his first six starts.
"I think it's fair to say he made a few more mistakes than we're accustomed to," Bochy said. "He's had trouble getting the ball where he wants to, and he left some pitches over the plate. It's a case, whether it's a hitter or a pitcher, of you're going to be a little off at times. You're going to go through skids."
Coming off a complete game at Coors Field, Bumgarner struggled with his command through five rocky innings. He walked two and loaded the bases in the first but got out of the jam with a strikeout. In the fourth inning, an error and double put two in scoring position for Rene Rivera, who lined a double down the left field line to give San Diego a 2-0 lead.
The Giants struck right back to take the lead. Angel Pagan hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the fourth and scored on Hunter Pence's triple. Three batters later, Michael Morse hit a two-run single up the middle to give Bumgarner a 3-2 lead.
He couldn't hold it. Rivera followed a single and walk with a three-run blast to left-center field. It was the first homer in three years for the 30-year-old backup catcher, who became the first Padre to tally five RBIs at AT&T Park.
Bumgarner was charged with four earned runs on seven hits and four walks, a season high.
"Something felt a little off (mechanically). I'll have to go back to see if I can figure it out," he said. "My command wasn't very good, and that always makes it tough to get outs and give the team chances to win, when you can't throw strikes or get it where you want it."
The Giants inched closer in the bottom of the fifth when Brandon Hicks, who won Sunday's game with a walk-off homer, hit a towering solo shot to center. The homer was the fourth of the season for Hicks, a career-high.
Buster Posey hit a one-out double off Padres right-hander Tyson Ross in the sixth and went to third on Morse's single to right. After reliever Alex Torres struck out Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford drew a walk to load the bases. Hicks unloaded on a slider and looked to have a go-ahead grand slam, but the ball died on the warning track in left field.
The Giants wouldn't get another runner into scoring position.
"You really have to watch the player," Bochy said. "See how they handled it. It's not easy and I'm sure he's frustrated and even down at times. But he's going out there and playing great defense, not letting it affect his 'D' or game. He's our first baseman. He's our best first baseman. He's going to be out there."
That tune changed a bit after three more hitless at-bats and another strikeout. Bochy said he would have to consider sitting either Belt (hitting just .255) or struggling Sandoval (.172) on Tuesday.