PITTSBURGH Back in April, when James McDonalds single was the only thing that separated Matt Cain from a perfect game, the Pirates pitcher expressed surprising remorse.
Wonder what hes feeling now?
McDonald injured the Giants in a much different way on a brutally hot Saturday afternoon at PNC Park. He pitched masterfully over seven innings, mixing a boring fastball with breaking pitches on the black while striking out 10. Ryan Vogelsong could not match him as the Giants lost 3-1 to even the series.
Starting pitching report
A Giant has not entered the All-Star break as the NL ERA leader since Atlee Hammaker (1.70) in 1993. Vogelsong (7-4) entered the day with the best mark in the league, at 2.26.
By the end of Saturdays proceedings, Vogelsong stood at 2.36 one point behind the Reds Johnny Cueto, who will start on Sunday. McDonald is right behind them both, at 2.37.
What else do Cueto, Vogelsong and McDonald have in common, other than ranking 1-2-3 in the NL in ERA? All three were snubbed for the NL All-Star team.
The Pirates scratched Vogelsong for a run in the third inning, when McDonald led off with a walk and scored from first base on Neil Walkers double. Michael McKenry, the Pirates backup catcher, hit his seventh homer of the season a solo shot in the fourth.
The Pirates plated a third run in the sixth when Andrew McCutchen singled and scored on Pedro Alvarezs opposite-field double. The drive missed being a home run by a foot or two, as it struck high off the wall in the left field corner.
Vogelsong still fought through the heat and a 27-minute rain delay to provide a quality start for the 15th time in 16 assignments. He has completed at least six innings every time hes taken the mound this season.
Santiago Casilla was unavailable because of his blister, but the Giants didnt need him. At least they were able to get a day of rest for interim-interim closer Sergio Romo.
At the plate
The Giants were sunk the moment the Pirates put a run on the board. McDonald entered with an 8-3 record, and the Pirates were shut out in all three of his losses including that April game at AT&T Park against Cain.
McDonald faced one more than the minimum in the first five innings. They broke through for a run in the sixth when Gregor Blanco hit a two-out single, advanced on a wild pitch and Ryan Theriot came through with an RBI single in a terrific at-bat. He was down 0-2 before working the count full, then grounded his hit through the middle.
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval ranged to make a nice play that saved a run in the sixth inning and Blanco made a sliding catch in the third, but the Pirates flashed the leather when it most mattered.
After Blanco reached on a bunt single in the ninth, shortstop Clint Barmes turned into a vacuum cleaner on a pair of grounders. Buster Posey flung his helmet after right fielder Garrett Jones ran down a deep drive in the right field corner.
The Pirates announced 34,545 paid on Sauna Day at the ballpark.
The Giants finish their road trip and the unofficial first half with an afternoon game under sweltering skies at PNC Park. Tim Lincecum (3-9, 6.08) will try to keep from melting down against right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-2. 3.74). First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. EDT.