Giants' eight-run start holds up vs. Dodgers
Vogelsong contributes two-run single but can't get out of fifth inning
LOS ANGELES -- If this were boxing instead of baseball, the Giants' 8-4 victory Friday over the Los Angeles Dodgers would have generated a split decision.
The Giants landed all their punches in the early rounds, scoring six historic runs in the first inning before moving to an 8-0 lead after two innings. Then the Dodgers picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and appeared poised to drive the Giants into the ropes until the final bell -- er, out.
"It was like two different games," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
The echoes of the ringing applause during a pregame ceremony honoring Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully had barely faded when the Giants began their takeover of Los Angeles' home opener.
Nine consecutive batters reached base with two outs in the first inning as San Francisco scored six runs, with Michael Morse and Ryan Vogelsong each contributing two-run singles. It was the Giants' highest-scoring first inning among the 448 games they have played at Dodger Stadium.
The Giants (4-1) continued to do their best work with two outs. They have scored 25 of their 31 runs under those conditions.
A little luck helped the Giants. Brandon Hicks hit a first-inning popup that landed barely beyond the infield for a double as first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and second baseman Dee Gordon lost track of the ball amid the smoggy, sunny sky. Two batters later, Vogelsong, who received no plate appearancess in Spring Training, blooped his hit to left-center field.
Asked about his "two-run knock," Vogelsong said, "I really couldn't call it a knock. It was more like a sand wedge. But you take them any way you can get them."
One inning later, shortstop Hanley Ramirez's throwing error on Buster Posey's leadoff grounder generated a pair of unearned runs for the Giants. Two-out hits by Hicks, a double, and Joaquin Arias, a single, accounted for the scoring.
"We got some breaks. We know it," Bochy said.
From then on, the game took a different path. After the Giants' offensive outburst finished Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who pitched 12 scoreless innings in his previous two outings, four relievers no-hit San Francisco over the final seven innings, striking out 10 and walking one.
The reversal would have been complete if it weren't for the Giants' bullpen, which essentially matched its Dodgers counterpart by allowing three hits in five shutout innings. David Huff relieved Vogelsong in the fifth and stranded two runners after the Dodgers narrowed their deficit to four runs. Juan Gutierrez, flinging a fastball that regularly reached 97-98 miles an hour, contributed 1 1/3 innings before Jean Machi and Javier Lopez worked an inning apiece.
Vogelsong's performance remained a concern for the Giants. He ultimately yielded four runs and seven hits after excelling for three shutout innings. Coming off a 2013 season in which he compiled a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts, Vogelsong has shown hints of improvement but again complained about his faulty pitching mechanics.
"It's the same thing I started getting into last year," said Vogelsong, who avoided discussing specifics but has previously cited physical balance as an issue.
At least Vogelsong could take solace in his base hit, his effective first three innings and the final score.
"It was a 50-50 start for me today, 50 percent good and 50 percent bad," he said. "But in the end, it's about winning ballgames."