SAN FRANCISCO -- They have fallen in line, one behind the other, taking the mound dogged by questions and leaving only after proving they do indeed have the answers.

And they are revealing those answers on baseball's biggest stage.

One night after left-hander Barry Zito squelched the Detroit bats in Game 1 of the World Series, fellow Giants southpaw Madison Bumgarner downright silenced the Tigers lineup in a 2-0 Game 2 victory Thursday night at China Basin.

Suddenly, San Francisco is two wins away from another world championship.

Two games away from winning it all and yet to hand the ball to the season-long ace, Matt Cain, who is scheduled to pitch Game 4.

Nor have the Giants turned to Ryan Vogelsong, their hottest pitcher this postseason. He's lined up for in Game 3 Saturday at Comerica Park.

"We don't, believe me, take anything for granted," manager Bruce Bochy said.

"It's a lot less stressful for sure," Bumgarner said, "but at the same time, I don't think we can stop pushing or we're going to find ourselves in the same spot we've been in."

That would require a three-game losing streak, something the Giants have not experienced since July. That's highly unlikely with Vogelsong and Cain starting the next two games.

Yet it will be exceedingly difficult for Vogelsong to surpass the performance of Bumgarner, who responded to a 10-day layoff -- during which he benefited from the counseling and tutoring of pitching coach Dave Righetti -- by allowing two hits and striking out eight over seven shutout innings.


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"He had a pretty determined look on his face tonight," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He made some good pitches when he had to."

This was a delightful turn of events insofar as Bumgarner easily was San Francisco's least effective starter during the National League playoffs. He entered Thursday with an ERA of 11.25 this postseason. He was horrid in Game 2 of the NLDS, allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to Cincinnati, and he was worse in Game 1 of the NLCS against St. Louis, allowing six runs over 32/3 innings in another loss.

He was dropped from the rotation, and fully deserving of the demotion.

Bumgarner responded by going underground with Righetti. They studied video and discovered the big (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) left-hander was the victim of sloppy mechanics. His delivery had gotten too long, resulting in superfluous stress on his arm and overall fatigue.

After three bullpen sessions under Righetti's supervision, it was decided early this week that Bumgarner would rejoin the rotation.

The result was Bumgarner at his best, an 86-pitch masterpiece.

"It's a testament to him," Vogelsong said. "It's not easy to fix yourself like that and go out there and perform so well. He wasn't just OK. He was really good."

Bumgarner struck out the first two batters he saw, Austin Jackson and Omar Infante, retiring the side in order in the first. His only real trouble came in the second, when he hit Prince Fielder with a pitch and Delmon Young followed with a double down into the left-field corner.

Fielder, heeding the signal of third-base coach Gene Lamont, tried to score and was thrown out at the plate on the relay by second baseman Marco Scutaro -- the only 7-4-2 putout in World Series history.

Bumgarner settled down, facing one over the minimum until he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh.

"The only difference was being able to make pitches," Bumgarner said. "I hadn't been able to do that this postseason. And tonight, Buster (Posey) caught a great game, defense did great."

Bumgarner was being far too modest. This performance only embellishes a growing World Series resume that originates to San Francisco's 2010 championship.

He's the first pitcher since Sandy Koufax in 1965 to pitch consecutive World Series games of at least seven scoreless innings with at least six strikeouts.

What does it look like? It looks as if Bumgarner is poised to become another Andy Pettitte, the big Yankees left-hander who holds a number of postseason records. Both are southpaws. They are of similar size. And, if you look closely you'll notice Bumgarner mimics Pettitte's focused glare toward the plate -- glove high, cap low and steely eyes in between.

And he's only 23.

So as the Giants leave town, they do so with a mighty wind at their back. They up two games to none, with their stud starters awaiting the Tigers.

Moreover, Zito isn't looking like the old Zito. And Bumgarner, who temporarily had become everything Zito had been for this team -- a nearly unbearable burden -- suddenly looks like the best of himself.

If this is how it's going to be, the anxieties can cease. There will be no further questions -- not for Bumgarner and not for the Giants.

Contact Monte Poole at mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/1montepoole.

Series star

Madison Bumgarner is 2-0 in two World Series starts:

Team IP Hits ER BB SO W-L ERA
Rangers -x 8.0 3 0 2 6 W 0.00
Tigers -y 7.0 2 0 2 8 W 0.00
Totals 15 5 0 4 14 2-0 0.00
x-2010; y-2012