LOS ANGELES -- Madison Bumgarner threw a log on the fire of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry Friday night while maintaining his Chavez Ravine mastery in San Francisco's 3-1 triumph.
The game cost San Francisco the services of first baseman Brandon Belt, who sustained a broken left thumb when he was struck on the hand on the first pitch by Dodgers starter Paul Maholm in the second inning.
"It's the old bittersweet thing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
That misfortune alone guaranteed a tumultuous evening for the Giants. The intensity level rose in the sixth inning, when volatile Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig mashed a one-out homer far beyond the center-field wall. Puig punctuated his plate appearance by flipping his bat, a gesture Bumgarner didn't appreciate. He approached the third-base line as Puig neared home plate and barked at his rival, prompting the umpiring crew to prevent tempers from escalating. Matt Kemp briefly emerged from the Dodgers' dugout, but neither team's bench came close to emptying.
Asked about his confrontation with Puig, Bumgarner said with a straight face, "I was congratulating him. It was a really good hit. It was impressive. Again, I don't know why everybody got so mad. It escalated quickly for no reason. I think he said, 'Thank you.' I'm not sure if he did. I don't speak Spanish very well."
Bochy wasn't fooled.
"I think we all know what caused it," he said. "Like any competitor, these guys get a little upset sometimes when they think they're getting shown up, just like any pitcher would. ... It's a heat-of-the-moment thing."
"It surprised me a little that he was there," Puig said, adding that he didn't know what Bumgarner said to him. "I may have done something he didn't like. From my perspective, it's part of the game."
Giants catcher Buster Posey also had a few words for Puig, though they didn't seem to be inflammatory.
"[He] said something like, let it go, go back to the bench," Puig said.
Bumgarner's ultimate revenge lay in improving to 10-4 with a 2.54 ERA lifetime against the Dodgers. He's also 7-2 at Dodger Stadium, where his 1.87 ERA is the lowest among all active pitchers (minimum 50 innings). The left-hander allowed Los Angeles' lone run on four hits and matched a season high by working eight innings.
Bumgarner explained his excellence at Dodger Stadium by citing the historic rivalry.
"I think it's just worked out that way. This is always a passionate series when we play the Dodgers," he said. "No matter what the records are, either team could be 30 games out and it's still going to be a big series just because it's the Giants and Dodgers. So it's always fun. You get up for it and usually everybody plays their best game in big situations like that."
One of Bumgarner's teammates who responded in this fashion was Angel Pagan. The center fielder recorded nine putouts, including a sliding grab of Puig's leadoff line drive in the ninth inning that propelled Sergio Romo to his 12th save in as many opportunities.
The Giants (23-13) broke a tie with Milwaukee to claim the National League's best record. With their seventh victory in their last eight games at Dodger Stadium, the Giants also improved to 6-2 on their three-city, 10-game trip -- all against 2013 postseason qualifiers -- and thus clinched a winning mark for the journey.
Bumgarner (4-3) and Maholm (1-3) were locked in a scoreless standoff until the fifth inning, when Brandon Hicks drew a one-out walk to set up Brandon Crawford's homer into the right-field pavilion. Crawford, a left-handed batter, improved his remarkable batting average against left-handed pitchers to .410 (16-for-39).
"It wasn't a good pitch," Maholm said. "I tried to go away and get a double play and ran the ball over the middle and up and he took advantage of it. It was really the only bad pitch I threw all night."
Joaquin Arias, who replaced Belt at first base, drove in a sixth-inning run with an infield single.