(Reuters) – The San Francisco Giants rode workhorse left-hander Madison Bumgarner all the way to their third World Series crown in five years with a Game Seven victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
Ace starter Bumgarner worked his magic as a reliever this time, coming out of the bullpen to throw five shutout innings and earn the save in a 3-2 win that clinched the best-of-seven Fall Classic.
It was the eighth World Series title for the Giants and third in five seasons after victories in 2010 and 2012.
Michael Morse drove in a pair of runs and Bumgarner, named Most Valuable Player of the World Series, dazzled the Royals once again despite returning to the mound on two days rest after throwing a 117-pitch shutout against them on Sunday.
“I was just thinking about getting outs until I couldn’t get them anymore,” said the 25-year-old. “Fortunately I was able to get some quick innings and I was able to stay in there.”
San Francisco’s starting pitcher, Tim Hudson, said there was no way Bumgarner was leaving until he got the job done.
“You couldn’t have pried the ball out of his hands,” said Hudson.
A raucous Kauffman Stadium and history were on the Royals’ side ahead of the game, as home teams had won the last nine World Series that went to a Game Seven, including the 1985 Royals.
But the visiting Giants, who were hammered 10-0 Tuesday’s Game Six, bounced back to become the first road team to win a World Series Game Seven since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.
San Francisco drew first blood, loading the bases in the top of the second and pushing across a pair of runs on sacrifice flies from Morse and Brandon Crawford.
The Royals answered back in the bottom of the same inning, Billy Butler hammering a leadoff single and racing home on Alex Gordon’s line drive double to the wall in right-center.
With the capacity crowd on their feet Omar Infante kept the celebrations going with a sacrifice fly to cash in Gordon and tie the contest at 2-2.
A single by Alcides Escobar marked the end of a short night’s work for starter Hudson.
Hudson, at 39 the oldest pitcher to start a World Series Game Seven, surrendered two runs on three hits in his 1-2/3 innings of work before manager Bruce Bochy made the call to the bullpen for Jeremy Affeldt.
The San Francisco bats were buzzing again in the fourth with Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence leading off with singles before Morse drove in his second run of the night on a broken bat fly that fell safely in right field for a single.
With Bumgarner on the hill, the one-run cushion was all the Giants would need.
The Royals threatened in the bottom of the ninth with two outs when Gordon lined a shot into center that fell in front of Gregor Blanco and skipped past him to the fence for a two-base error that allowed Gordon to reach third base.
But Bumgarner would not be denied, getting Salvador Perez to pop out to third baseman Sandoval, who collapsed onto his back in foul territory after gloving the ball for the final out.
Bumgarner, who won two games in the series before his save in the finale, was agitating to pitch in Game Seven.
“He kept telling me ‘I’m ready to go,’ he said just put me in anytime and it couldn’t have worked out better,” Giants manager Bochy said about Bumgarner.
“We just got on this horse and rode it.”