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MIL@SF: Bumgarner strikes out four over seven innings

Not much has been able to slow down Giants starter Madison Bumgarner in the last two months. And fortunately for Bumgarner, the only thing that prevented him from his 11th consecutive quality start in his last outing won't be a factor when he takes the hill Sunday against the Marlins.

Entering Tuesday's game against the Nationals, Bumgarner had lasted at least seven innings and given up no more than three earned runs in each of last his last 10 starts. Then a rain delay ended his night after he surrendered just one run in four innings on Tuesday against the Nationals.

The retractable roof at Marlins Park will guarantee that the only thing standing in Bumgarner's way in Sunday's series finale will be Miami hitters. That's bad news for the Marlins, considering San Francisco's 24-year-old right-hander is 6-3 with a 1.80 ERA in 11 starts since June 14.

Bumgarner has been the Giants' ace all season, leading the club's starting pitchers with 11 wins, a 2.73 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, 154 strikeouts and an opponents' batting average of .197. Heading into his 24th start of 2013, Bumgarner said he feels good about what he's been able to do, but he's always trying to improve.

"There's lots of stuff," Bumgarner said of what he's working on. "Just finding ways to be more consistent with everything and continuing to learn all the different aspects of the game, small stuff that might not make a big difference, but you never know."

While Bumgarner will look to continue his stellar work, Marlins starter Tom Koehler will try to prevent his club from being swept for the second time this month. And much like Bumgarner, Koehler, who is 3-8 with a 4.62 ERA this season, is working on improving his consistency.

Sunday will mark Koehler's second start against the Giants this season. His last outing vs. San Francisco came at AT&T Park, where he held the Giants to one run on three hits in seven innings for his first Major League win.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond has liked what he's seen from Koehler and said the 27-year-old right-hander has big-time potential.

"He's pitched against some good teams and really shut them down," Redmond said. "You know that is there. It just really comes down to consistency of him in the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters and eliminating the big inning."

Giants: Panda heating up
Entering Sunday, the Giants' Pablo Sandoval has hit safely in five of his last six games. More importantly, he's been driving in runs in the process.

Sandoval notched his sixth and seventh RBIs in his last four contests in Saturday's win. On Friday, he drove in three runs, the first time he's recorded that many RBIs in one game since May 14.

"I don't try to get too excited up there," Sandoval said. "I try to trust my hands and try to put the ball in play. I was excited to swing the bat the way I swung it [Friday]."

After batting .077 (3-for-39) in the first 10 games of August, Sandoval is 10-for-21 with seven RBIs since Aug. 11. Although his season batting average currently is hovering around his career-low .268 mark set in 2010, Sandoval maintains a positive outlook.

"I know that everything's going to be better and better every day, because I've been working hard," Sandoval said. "I just have to be consistent now. No one day off. I just try to be consistent every day, go up there and try to do the best that I can."

• After being scratched due to a stiff back before San Francisco's game against Washington on Tuesday, Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro exited Saturday's game before the bottom of the sixth with lower back tightness. He's started 104 of San Francisco's 122 games this season, batting .306 with two homers and 23 RBIs.

Marlins: Polanco to be re-evaluated Sunday
Placido Polanco was out of the lineup on Saturday, one day after he was hit on the left side of the helmet by a Santiago Casilla fastball. However, Polanco avoided any serious injury and could be back as early as Sunday, when he will be re-evaluated by the Marlins' medical staff.

"The good sign is, I didn't have any headache," said Polanco, who didn't have any concussion symptoms on Saturday but added that he didn't sleep well. "It's just a little balance. I got hit in the ear. That's how I feel. They told me to lay low today, and see how I feel [Sunday]."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy called Redmond after Friday's game to express his concern regarding Polanco, a gesture the Marlins skipper appreciated.

"I thought that was a class move," Redmond said. "He wanted to make sure he was all right. Obviously, any situation like that is scary for all of us who have been in this game. I hope he is going to be all right."

Worth noting
• Despite going 0-for-2 on Saturday and falling one game short of setting a career-high hit streak, Brandon Belt scored twice and collected two walks, extending his on-base streak to 13 games.

• The Giants are in the midst of a stretch in which they play 16 games in 16 days. They've gone 3-2 in the first five games.

• Giancarlo Stanton's two-run homer on Saturday off Giants starter Matt Cain was estimated at 446 feet, and it marked his first home run since July 28, a span of 59 at-bats. Comments