SAN FRANCISCO –- The Giants were trying to build on something for a change Wednesday night. They were coming off their first series-opening win in nearly a month.
It was not an ideal time to run into a buzzsaw.
Adam Wainwright scattered sawdust all night, recording 17 ground-ball outs and outdueling Ryan Vogelsong as the St. Louis Cardinals handed the Giants a 2-0 loss at AT&T Park.
Wainwright got within four outs of a complete game, induced two double plays and rookie Joe Panik had two of the Giants’ four hits against him. Vogelsong was game enough in seven innings but the Cardinals bunched together most of their hits against him in a two-run third that marked the difference in the game.
Starting pitching report
There was a time this spring when Vogelsong couldn’t maintain his stuff beyond 30 or 40 pitches and you wondered how on earth he could chew his way through a major league lineup for a third time.
There’s no doubting Vogelsong’s ability to maintain his stuff now. He started out in a good groove, had one turbulent inning in which a couple good pitches got hit, and then just as quickly smoothed it out over his final four frames.
There was no mistaking the crackle in his 91 mph fastball as he struck out the side in the seventh inning. He finished with eight strikeouts, one off his season high. Over his last two starts against the Reds and Cardinals, he has allowed three runs while striking out 15 in 13 innings.
But Vogelsong (5-5) didn’t win either of those starts. The Cardinals strung together four hits in a two-run third inning, and that was enough for right-hander Adam Wainwright.
Oscar Taveras led off with a double, Mark Ellis singled to put runners at the corners and Vogelsong missed Buster Posey’s target low and away with his 0-1 fastball to Matt Carpenter, who grounded it through the middle for an RBI single. Vogelsong’s 1-1 slider to Matt Holliday did go where he intended it, but the Cardinals slugger reached out and poked it through the right side to score Ellis and make it 2-0.
In his other six innings, Vogelsong only allowed two hits, both singles, and wiped them out with double-play grounders.
He had more in his tank, having thrown 97 pitches through seven innings. And his spot wasn’t due up until seventh in the bottom of the inning. But Bruce Bochy went to his bullpen anyway.
Jeremy Affeldt allowed a pair of singles in the eighth and didn’t get the double-play grounder he needed to escape when first baseman Michael Morse couldn’t scoop a throw. But Juan Gutierrez entered and stranded runners at the corners.
Sergio Romo, pitching in a non-closer capacity for the first time this season, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning. He did back up an 0-2 slider to Peter Bourjos, who sent a fly out near the warning track in left field.
At the plate
Although the box score didn’t show it, the Giants did work some tough at-bats against perhaps the NL’s best pitcher. Tyler Colvin worked an 0-2 count full while laying off some good pitches before lining a single on a curveball in the second inning. Brandon Crawford also showed discipline in a seven-pitch at-bat before grounding out.
Gregor Blanco worked a nine-pitch at-bat after Vogelsong drew a walk in the third. But there is a difference between standing your ground with your shield and dying on it. Blanco ended that confrontation by grounding into a double play.
The Giants didn’t get their first runner into scoring position until the sixth, when Panik hit a leadoff single and moved up on a sacrifice. But Blanco grounded back to the mound and Hunter Pence bounced out to shortstop.
Panik started another rally in the eighth that drove Wainwright (11-4) from the game. He hit a two-out single and Hector Sanchez followed with a pinch single to put runners at the corners. Pat Neshek appeared to get a charity strike on a 3-1 pitch to Blanco, and the lethal sidearmer didn’t feel like being generous right back. He threw a nasty strike down and in that Blanco popped up to end the inning.
The Giants had a final chance against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth after instant replay overturned the initial out call on Pence’s infield single. But the middle of the order couldn’t sustain the rally. Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval both grounded into forceouts at second base and Michael Morse struck out on a 99 mph fastball to end it.
Crawford continues to amaze. He went deep into the hole to glove Holliday’s grounder and threw across his body to first base for the out.
The Giants announced 41,321 paid. Fredbird still wears yellow gloves.
The Giants and Cardinals finish up their three-game series at AT&T Park on Thursday. Madison Bumgarner (9-5, 2.90) is scheduled to take the mound against Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez (1-3, 4.13). First pitch is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. PDT, and as a reminder, I-280 will be shut down from the 101 interchange to King St. If you’re driving, leave extra time to get to the ballpark.