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Giants' Vogelsong hurts ex-team in first start in years

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- After almost five years of playing in Japan, Salt Lake, Lehigh Valley and other spots, simply being announced as a starting pitcher in the majors once again was quite the thrill for Ryan Vogelsong.

"It was a sense of accomplishment for me before the first pitch had even started," he said. "I was fighting it a little bit not to find myself getting too relaxed, you know?"

He settled in just fine.

Vogelsong won while making his first big league start in almost seven years, pitching effectively into the sixth inning against his former team and leading the San Francisco Giants over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 Thursday.

"Thousands of times," Vogelsong said, "I wondered if I was ever going to pitch in the big leagues again, let alone get a chance to be a starter again and win a game."

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Vogelsong (1-0) made his first start since Sept. 29, 2004, when he was with Pittsburgh. He spent three seasons in Japan after last appearing in a game for the Pirates in June 2006, then spent last season playing for the Triple-A teams of the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels.

Vogelsong signed a minor-league deal with the Giants this past offseason and had his contract purchased from Triple-A Fresno on April 17 when Barry Zito went on the disabled list. Vogelsong had made two relief appearances since, covering 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

"He came into spring training and he opened eyes up right away," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said "The way he was throwing the ball, he could have easily made our club. We just didn't have a spot for him.

"He did a great job. I'm happy for him, proud for him, to get a win in his first start."

The 33-year-old Vogelsong tied a career high by striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks.

Brian Wilson pitched the ninth for his seventh save. San Francisco had lost five of its previous six.

Aaron Rowand had three RBIs and stole home as part of a double steal. He hit a two-run double during the Giants' four-run third.

Neil Walker had three hits for the Pirates, who have lost three of their four home series this season.

"He did a good job of keeping guys off balance," Walker said of Vogelsong. "I was fortunate enough to hit a couple of barrels on him, but for the most part he was down in the zone and threw a lot of good pitches today."

After a two-out double by Walker in the first that drove in Lyle Overbay, Vogelsong went through a run of retiring 14 of 16 batters before sixth, during which he was lifted after allowing an RBI groundout by Ryan Doumit.

Vogelsong had about 25 family and friends on hand. A native of eastern Pennsylvania, he met his wife in Pittsburgh.

"It feels really good," Vogelsong said. "That was my main focus today was just to go out there today and put up a good start, give us a chance to start swinging the bats and guys came big through for me today."

The Giants rank 13th in the NL in runs and were coming off a shutout loss Wednesday. Their big inning Thursday came while not getting many hard-hit balls during the third off Jeff Karstens (2-1).

Mike Fontenot led off with a single and Eli Whiteside followed by getting hit by a pitch. Vogelsong reached when Karstens unsuccessfully tried to get the lead runner on a bunt, loading the bases.

That set up Rowand's double just inside the third base bag.

"It doesn't matter who gets it," Rowand said, "but as a team when you've been struggling to get big hits, it helps everybody take a deep breath, step back and relax."

With one out and after an intentional walk, Pablo Sandoval grounded to short, but Pittsburgh was unable to turn a double play, so Vogelsong scored.

Rowand made it 4-1 when he came across as part of a double steal with Sandoval. Doumit's throw went into center field on the play -- the catcher's poor throw was one of four Pirates errors.

"We got a couple breaks in the big inning, that's what helped us today," Bochy said. "But it's good to get those breaks and get a big number.

"When you're not swinging the bat, you try to think of ways you can create runs."

The Giants' fifth run came in the seventh, an inning in which Pittsburgh committed two errors.

Only two of the five runs charged against Karstens in his 6 2/3 innings were earned.

"We beat ourselves today, Overbay said. "If we are going to be where we want to be, we can't do that kind of stuff."

Notes

  • Paid attendance for the three-game series against the reigning World Series champions was 33,357 -- although the turnstile count was significantly lower than that. The Pirates haven't drawn as many as 19,000 to a game since the first three games of the season.
  • Originally drafted by the Giants, Vogelsong was the primary piece of a trade to get ace Jason Schmidt from Pittsburgh in 2001.
  • OF Xavier Paul made his Pittsburgh debut hours after being activated, striking out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Paul was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week.
  • Zito was cleared to put weight on his right foot for the first time in 11 days. He no longer will require crutches or a boot to deal with his foot sprain and could be cleared to resume baseball activity in one to three weeks.
 
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Ryan Vogelsong allows two runs on four hits and K's eight over six innings as he makes his first start since 2004. (Getty Images)
Ryan Vogelsong allows two runs on four hits and K's eight over six innings as he makes his first start since 2004. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
San Francisco

A. Rowand
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
Pittsburgh

N. Walker
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 

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San Francisco Giants
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Aaron Rowand, CF5123001 .286
Emmanuel Burriss, 2B4010002 .250
Aubrey Huff, 1B3000112 .211
Pablo Sandoval, 3B4011000 .325
Pat Burrell, LF3010012 .264
    Jeremy Affeldt, P0000000 .000
    Ramon Ramirez, P0000000 .000
   a- Miguel Tejada, PH1010000 .210
    Javier Lopez, P0000000 .000
    Brian Wilson, P0000000 .000
Cody Ross, RF-LF4000012 .192
Mike Fontenot, SS4120000 .200
Eli Whiteside, C3100011 .182
Ryan Vogelsong, P1100001 .000
    Nate Schierholtz, RF2120000 .286
Totals34510414  
a-singled for Ramirez in the 8th
Batting
2B - Aaron Rowand (8, Karstens)
SH - Ryan Vogelsong (1)
RBI - Aaron Rowand 3 (8), Pablo Sandoval (14)
2-OUT RBI - Aaron Rowand (4)
SB - Aaron Rowand (1, off Karstens/Doumit), Pablo Sandoval (1, 3rd base off Karstens/Doumit), Nate Schierholtz (1, 2nd base off D. McCutchen/Doumit)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Sandoval-Burriss-Huff
E - Emmanuel Burriss (1, Misplayed grounder)
San Francisco Giants
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Ryan Vogelsong (W,1-0) 5.2422280 1.74
Jeremy Affeldt (H,4) 0.1000010 4.50
Ramon Ramirez (H,4) 1000000 1.29
Javier Lopez (H,2) 1000100 1.00
Brian Wilson (S,7) 1000130 7.71
HBP - Alvarez (by Jeremy Affeldt)
WP - Ryan Vogelsong (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Vogelsong 99-60, Jeremy Affeldt 11-6, Ramon Ramirez 7-6, Javier Lopez 17-8, Brian Wilson 27-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Vogelsong 7-3, Ramon Ramirez 2-1, Javier Lopez 2-0
Batters Faced - Ryan Vogelsong 24, Jeremy Affeldt 2, Ramon Ramirez 3, Javier Lopez 3, Brian Wilson 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Andrew McCutchen, CF4000020 .202
Jose Tabata, LF4000000 .255
Lyle Overbay, 1B2100220 .244
Neil Walker, 2B4131001 .305
Garrett Jones, RF2010100 .250
   a- Matt Diaz, PH-RF1000001 .222
Ryan Doumit, C3001102 .255
Pedro Alvarez, 3B3000023 .202
Brandon Wood, SS3000024 .160
    Daniel McCutchen, P0000000 .000
   b- Xavier Paul, PH1000011 .250
Jeff Karstens, P2000020 .000
    Ronny Cedeno, SS2000011 .179
Totals31242412  
a-grounded into a double play for G. Jones in the 8th
b-struck out for D. McCutchen in the 9th
Batting
2B - Neil Walker (6, Vogelsong)
RBI - Neil Walker (14), Ryan Doumit (5)
2-OUT RBI - Neil Walker (8)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Walker-Wood-Overbay, Alvarez-Overbay, Cedeno-Walker-Overbay
E - Ryan Doumit (2, Throwing), Jeff Karstens (1, Throwing), Lyle Overbay (3, Dropped fly), Neil Walker (3, Throwing)
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jeff Karstens (L,2-1) 6.2752140 3.57
Daniel McCutchen 2.1300000 0.00
IBB - Huff by Jeff Karstens
HBP - Whiteside (by Jeff Karstens)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Karstens 93-63, Daniel McCutchen 24-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Karstens 10-5, Daniel McCutchen 2-4
Batters Faced - Jeff Karstens 28, Daniel McCutchen 9
Game Information
Attendance - 14747
Game Time - 2:49
Temperature - 60
Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Tom Hallion, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Al Porter