CHICAGO -- For all the talk about Madison Bumgarner's late struggles a year ago, it has been the beginnings of seasons that have more often been a problem for the big left-hander.

Bumgarner lost his first six decisions in 2011 and last season gave up at least four runs in four of his first 10 starts. For the Giants, the past slow starts make this season's early dominance all the more encouraging.

Bumgarner threw 62/3 strong innings in a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, righting the ship for the Giants on a cold afternoon that featured a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes. He became the first National League pitcher to win three games this season and has a 1.77 ERA through three starts.

San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro, left, throws to first after forcing out Chicago Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano during the fourth inning of
San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro, left, throws to first after forcing out Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, April 13, 2013. Scott Hairston was safe at first. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ( Nam Y. Huh )

"He really is getting himself on track," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He got out of sync last year and worked hard this winter and spring to keep his delivery straight. He did a great job of pounding the strike zone today. He's really locked in."

Bumgarner kept the Cubs off the board through the first six innings as the Giants added to their lead a run at a time. Against Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija, the Giants scored on RBI singles from Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.

Marco Scutaro, who had three hits, lined a single to right in the seventh that scored Bumgarner when Scott Hairston's throw missed the cutoff.


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The insurance run was needed right away. Dioner Navarro hit his second pinch-hit homer in two days, this time crushing a Bumgarner fastball into the left-field bleachers in the bottom of the seventh.

"It caught a lot of the plate," Bumgarner said.

That would be the only mistake he made. Bumgarner struck out six while improving to 34-4 in his career when given at least three runs of support. After pitching eight shutout innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first start, Bumgarner has given up four earned runs combined in wins over the Colorado Rockies and Cubs.

"This is a lot better start than usual," he said. "The first (game) I felt pretty good, and the last two I've felt pretty solid. But I definitely still have got some work to do.

"It can be better."

  • It was 39 degrees at first pitch Saturday and light snow fell in the morning, but that was nothing compared with the ice in the Giants clubhouse after their fifth win in six games.

    Third baseman Pablo Sandoval bruised his shin when he tumbled into the stands while making a great catch on a pop-up in the ninth inning but said he likely would play Sunday.

    "I hit (a seat) pretty good," he said. "I didn't even think about it. I was just trying to catch the ball."

    Angel Pagan was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of a sore right wrist. Pagan hurt himself Thursday when he made a diving catch in right-center field but hoped to start Sunday in the series finale. He entered on a double-switch in the eighth inning Saturday and popped out in his only at-bat.

    Buster Posey was hit by a pitch for a second straight game and showed some frustration but said he wasn't feeling any pain. Posey is hitless in his last 10 at-bats.

    "It's just about making sure I get good pitches to hit," he said. "I feel like I'm close."

  • With Sergio Romo getting a day of rest, Santiago Casilla pitched two innings to pick up his first save of the season. Casilla had 25 saves a year ago but lost the full-time closer role when a blister led to some poor outings. He said he doesn't care when he pitches and even joked that he will start if needed.

    "They know I like to pitch," he said. "I'm here. I just like winning."

  • Former Giants right fielder Nate Schierholtz was given his World Series ring by Bochy before the game. Schierholtz, traded to Philadelphia for Hunter Pence last summer, is hitting .355 in his first 10 games as a Cub. Schierholtz signed a one-year deal with the Cubs in December.