Vogelsong wins in his return to AT&T Park, as the Giants continue to struggle

Vogey's back

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Ryan Vogelsong’s first start against the Giants in more than a decade was a lot like the starts the right hander made for the Giants in the years in between: emotional, rocky, good and bad, but ultimately a success.

Vogelsong allowed the first two runs of the ballgame, then saw his Pirates provide support with five runs off Matt Moore, enough for Vogey to register an 8-5 win, and keep the Giants reeling, now losers of 19 of 28 since the All-Star break.

While Vogelsong came in hyped up and vulnerable, Moore, in his first start as a Giant at home, was flawless early until thing unraveled in the fourth. After retiring 10 batters without allowing a hit, Moore allowed the next five hitters to reach and three scored. For the rest of the night, the Giants trailed, fighting an uphill battle they would ultimately lose.

Moore came in with a streak of eight consecutive quality starts, the best current streak among major leaguers along with Washington’s Max Scherzer, and this time, couldn’t make enough pitches to extend it. Along with the six hits he allowed, three walks, all bunched into his final three innings of work, were Moore’s undoing.

Just as inconsistent were the Giants behind Moore, who made several flashy defensive plays, but just as frequently saw well-placed balls drop in around them. On the base paths offensively, the Giants couldn’t extend their early 2-0 lead, much due to Trevor Brown being thrown out at the plate in the second, and Hunter Pence not heeding a stop sign put up by third base coach Roberto Kelly, allowing the Pirates to record a critical out in the third.

The Giants briefly rallied behind home runs from Eduardo Nunez and Denard Span that closed the gap to 5-4 in the sixth. Span’s shot marked Vogelsong’s final pitch of the inning, not that the former Giant wanted it to be, as he uniquely waved off manager Clint Hurdle as he approached the mound.   But this was a case where the manager knew his pitcher better than the pitcher knew himself as Hurdle recounted.

“His job is to pitch, my job is to manage, and I wasn’t going to go back in the dugout,” Hurdle said.

From Hurdle’s keen perspective, Vogelsong’s evening was perfectly summarized. Hurdle said his pitcher came in “overamped” allowing two hits, and two walks in the first inning, in which he escaped allowing just one run. Heading into the start, Vogelsong said it would be emotional day, returning to the place where he enjoyed the greatest success of his 16-year career, while needing to show he’s still viable and capable of winning. Afterwards, Vogelsong talked about the juxtaposition of trying to get locked in while warming up, all the while with Giants’ fans yelling at him and expressing their appreciation of his previous five seasons.

“I’m tired,” Vogelsong said afterwards. “I’m off in the right field corner and the fans are screaming at me, and I’m loving every minute of it.”

While Vogelsong was all over the place in attempting to describe the experience, Hurdle was more succinct in saying, “I don’t think it was just another day at the park.”

After allowing the home run to Span, and trying to shush Hurdle, Vogelsong exited to rousing applause.

“I was expecting a warm reception, but I wasn’t expecting that reception,” he said.

Trailing 7-4 in the seventh, the Giants had an opportunity to change the story, after a wild pitch allowed a pair of base runners to move up with Nunez back at the plate. But Nunez’ liner to center was snagged by Andrew McCutchen just inches above the turf, as the centerfielder came racing out of nowhere to rob the Giants’ third baseman.

“Cutch’s play was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time,” Hurdle said.

The Giants played a second straight day without Buster Posey, sidelined by back issues, and his absence was noteworthy to Vogelsong, who felt the catcher’s intimate knowledge of his tendencies would make him his toughest out.

Also on the San Francisco injury front, Cody Gearrin drew closer to a return to the big club, pitching a rehab stint in Sacramento on Monday. Josh Osich continues to rehab, but his return before September 1, is considered unlikely, as he’s not as close to returning from his forearm issue as is Gearrin.

On Tuesday, the Giants have Jeff Samardzija on the mound in a matchup with Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon.

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