PHOENIX For all their Mad Max road warriorism since the All-Star break, the Giants finally looked like a gassed group ready to turn for home.
You could understand a flat afternoon at the end of an otherwise resounding trip. But Sundays 10-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks only reinforced an important question the Giants must answer in the next two weeks:
Does Ryan Vogelsong have anything left in the tank?
Vogelsong might have hit a low point in his second-half slide. How else to explain surrendering a three-run triple to Patrick Corbin, a .071-hitting pitcher? And how else to excuse a 1-2 fastball straight as a South Dakota highway?
Before his rotten, seven-start run, Vogelsong led the NL in ERA (2.27). Now he ranks 18th (3.65). And his place on a postseason roster is tenuous, at best.
Shortstop Joaquin Arias made a fielding error to start the Diamondbacks five-run rally in the fourth, but Vogelsong couldnt retire the opposing pitcher to pick up his teammate.
Still, the Giants return for a 10-game homestand after winning two more road series at Colorado and Arizona. They went 4-2 on the trip and are 9-0-1 in their last 10 road series.
Starting pitching report
Someone needs to tighten Vogelsongs lug nuts. He lasted just 3 13 innings and Shane Loux cashed in his two baserunners, leaving him with seven runs (six earned) and giving him a 10.31 ERA over his last seven starts.
His afternoon started off much better. Vogelsong (12-9) held the Diamondbacks to one single and one walk while striking out five in his first time through the lineup. But Arizona hitters made one heck of an adjustment. In their second look at the right-hander, they were 5 for 7 with two walks.
One of those was intentional after Cody Ransoms double put runners at second and third. But Vogelsong couldnt put away Corbin, who rapped his triple down the first base line to clear the bases and give Arizona a 5-2 lead.
Vogelsong walked the next batter, Adam Eaton, to end another disappointing start. He was throwing 92-93 mph, but once again, too many were at the belt.
Even before the game, Bochy signaled that he would use the rather large back-end of his bullpen. His frontline guys needed rest, and pitchers like Brad Penny and Shane Loux have been pawing at the dirt.
They were beyond rusty. Loux gave up a two-run double to Aaron Hill and it didnt get much better as Clay Hensley, George Kontos and Dan Runzler struggled as well. (Upton hit a home run off Hensley that seeded a rain cloud.) Only Penny managed to work a moderately clean inning.
Jean Machi was the only reliever who might have convinced Bochy to try him in a more leveraged role. He worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and impressively struck out Miguel Montero.
At the plate
Angel Pagan sparked the Giants yet again with a double to lead off the game. Marco Scutaro sacrificed him to third base and Buster Posey hit a two-out, RBI single.
Pagans early-run theory usually holds water. The Giants were 11-2 in games when he led off with a hit since the All-Star break.
This time, there was a rip in the lining. The Giants did manage to tie the game in the fourth when Posey walked and Brandon Belt yanked a double past first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
But then Arizona opened the floodgates and the Giants were swept away. Corbin became the first opposing pitcher to drive in four runs against the Giants since the Astros' Bob Knepper in 1985.
Posey made another impressive throw while nabbing Adam Eaton trying to steal second base in the first inning. Second baseman Marco Scutaro applied a deft tag as well.
But the Giants did not distinguish themselves in the field. Pablo Sandoval juggled another ball at third base, Justin Christian threw a ball from center field to the backstop and Arias had the games lowlight when he couldnt handle Goldschmidts grounder to start the fourth.
The Giants always complain about the concrete-hard infield here at Chase Field. At least they wont have to return here again this season.
The Diamondbacks announced 29,051 paid on Hispanic Heritage Day. On a semi-related note, I highly recommend the red corn chicken taquitos near aisle 313.
The Giants begin their final homestand of the regular season a 10-game set with a four-game series against the Colorado Rockies. Madison Bumgarner (14-10, 3.32) will try to stop a four-start winless streak in Mondays series opener. Hell oppose right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (2-5. 4.86). After that, itll be Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Barry Zito against left-hander Jeff Francis, right-hander Tyler Chatwood and left-hander Drew Pomeranz.