SAN FRANCISCO -- Friday's game lacked the opportunity for the Pirates to go to town on the San Francisco Giants' middle relievers, like they did Thursday. If they were to accomplish anything, they'd have to do so against Madison Bumgarner.
Once Bumgarner takes the mound, he doesn't leave for a while.
Friday's game had that scent about it. For six innings Bumgarner controlled the Pirates. He allowed four singles and a walk and only one runner reached second base. Then Clint Barmes upended Bumgarner's night.
Barmes' three-run home run in the seventh inning gave the Pirates a 3-1 win against the Giants at AT&T Park Friday night and, for one more day at least, kept them in front of the St. Louis Cardinals in the division.
"Gave us the lead and I was really happy for him to see him put that swing on that," Charlie Morton said.
The Pirates won for the fourth time in their past five games, coinciding with the start of their west coast road trip.
Gaby Sanchez and Josh Harrison both singled in the seventh. Neil Walker, who entered the game with a .490 on-base plus slugging percentage batting right-handed, bunted against the lefty Bumgarner for the second time in the game. It didn't matter, because after Barmes' homer, every base became scoring position.
Barmes somehow golfed a 1-1 slider over the wall in left field for his fourth home run.
"Thing of beauty," Morton said. "It was awesome."
"I was able to barrel it," Barmes said. "I'll take it every time. It wasn't a bad pitch by any means."
In addition to Bumgarner, Barmes has homered against Stephen Strasburg, Matt Harvey and Lance Lynn this season.
"I wish I could explain that a little better," Barmes said. "I may have a few more homers if I could."
Bumgarner pitched five innings in his most recent start. A rain delay in the start before that prematurely ended his day at four innings. In 10 starts from June 14 to Aug. 7, Bumgarner pitched at least seven innings each time out. He has gone seven in 15 of his 25 starts.
That didn't change Friday. Bumgarner (11-8) completed eight innings and allowed seven hits.
"A nice piece of work from us to score three in a game that we hadn't hit a lot of balls hard off Madison," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He was pitching very, very well."
Morton lacked a track record of Bumgarner's caliber, but had also pitched well entering his start Friday. He allowed two runs in each of his past three starts, all of them at least six innings.
Morton watched Bumgarner's performance Friday and matched it. He worked efficiently, going right after hitters to force ground balls. In 7 2/3 innings, Morton (5-3) allowed one run on seven hits and forced 12 groundouts compared to two flyouts. He walked only one batter and struck out three.
"I was pretty efficient and the guys behind me were making great plays," Morton said. "It all added up to me going pretty deep."
Morton allowed six batters to reach base in the first three innings, though he erased all but five of them. Russell Martin caught two runners stealing, and three ground balls became fielder's choices that eliminated the lead runner.
The Giants scored first in the fourth inning. Buster Posey hit a one-out double and took third base on Morton's wild pitch. Hunter Pence grounded out. Morton pitched around Pablo Sandoval, working him with curveballs and changeups, and walked him to bring Roger Kieschnick to the plate.
Kieschnick hit a soft pop fly to shallow left field that dropped between Jordy Mercer, who played third base, Barmes and Jose Tabata. Posey scored, and the Giants led 1-0.
"I don't think anybody could get to it," Hurdle said.
Morton contained the damage from there. He found his curveball in the fifth, employing some good ones to strike out Gregor Blanco. He needed only six pitches to retire the heart of the order in the sixth, eight pitches in the seventh.
Morton retired two batters quickly in the eighth before Brandon Crawford doubled. Manager Clint Hurdle brought in the left-handed Tony Watson against Brandon Belt, and Belt struck out looking.
Mark Melancon earned his ninth save.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published August 24, 2013 4:45 AM