SAN FRANCISCO – The ovation given to Ryan Vogelsong was telling as he walked off the mound in the eighth inning Sunday at AT&T Park. The sellout crowd wanted the Giants right-hander to get a much-deserved crack at his first complete game since 2011. It didn’t transpire that way, but that did nothing to take away from Vogelsong’s spectacular outing in a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He held Pittsburgh to two hits over eight innings, striking out five and providing a signature moment in a season that’s been very trying for the pitcher. Sunday marked Vogelsong’s fourth start back from the disabled list after he missed 69 games due to a fractured right hand. He kept the Pirates off-balance all day, giving up just a single to Andrew Lambo in the third and an infield single to Andrew McCutchen in the seventh.
Starting pitching report
Vogelsong (3-4) built on his last start, when he went seven innings and gave up two runs on six hits against the Boston Red Sox. He issued one walk over eight innings on Sunday and allowed just two runners as far as second base. Vogelsong’s only complete game in the majors came May 14, 2011 at Wrigley Field – and that was a rain-shortened six-inning affair. He ended the eighth inning at 98 pitches and still looked very strong. But he was lifted for a pinch hitter in theGiants three-run eighth.
It was a restful day for the relief corps. Closer Sergio Romo was not needed and Sandy Rosario mopped up in the ninth.
At the plate
The Giants kept things tense by failing to cash in on their scoring chances early. They put runners in scoring position in four of the first seven innings but pushed across just one run. But they broke it open in the ninth with three runs. Pablo Sandoval came up with runners on the corners and launched a two-run triple to right-center that gave the Giants some breathing room. Joaquin Arias would chip in with an RBI double down the left-field line, but all of that scoring worked against Vogelsong staying in the game. The Giants made it all the way down to his spot in the batting order, and Bruce Bochy sent in Brett Pill to pinch-hit for him. Buster Posey had two hits to push his average to .307. His two-out single to right scored Gregor Blanco to get San Francisco on the board in the third.
In the field
Two games, two highlight-reel plays from third baseman Pablo Sandoval. On Saturday night, he made a great backhanded stop and throw across the diamond for the third out to stifle one Pirates rally. In the top of the first Sunday, the Panda leapt high to snare Andrew McCutchen’s liner that was headed for left.
Sandoval later had another great play with an asterisk. He made a diving stop of McCutchen’s grounder, but threw wildly to first for an error that didn’t prove costly. Posey had a nice game behind the plate. He threw a strike to second to nail Andrew Lambo trying to steal second in the fifth, which ended that inning. Then he sprung up to field A.J. Burnett’s sacrifice bunt attempt in the sixth and started a 2-6-4 double play.
The announced turnout was 41,815 – all of them happy that the 49ers were scheduled for an evening kickoff. Pregame traffic nightmare avoided. Postgame? Maybe a different story.
The Giants take a nine-game tour of the National League West beginning Monday with a three-game series at Coors Field. Barry Zito (4-9, 5.63) will oppose Juan Nicasio (7-6, 4.79) in the 5:40 P.M. opener. Yusmeiro Petit (0-0, 3.38) makes his first start of the season against Colorado’s Chad Bettis (0-2, 4.50) on Tuesday at 5:40. Wednesday’s finale pits Madison Bumgarner (11-8, 2.84) against Jhoulys Chacin (12-7, 3.22) at 5:40.