Pitching carries Giants to end stellar trip
Vogelsong allows one run over six innings to beat Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- The Giants sealed their success on a tough journey with a tough starting pitcher.
San Francisco completed its 5-2 performance against the Rockies and Brewers behind Ryan Vogelsong, who finished the trip Wednesday with six stubborn innings in a 3-1 triumph at Miller Park.
True, San Francisco subdued a pair of last-place clubs -- including a three-game sweep of Milwaukee, which owns a Major League-low .225 team batting average. But the Giants also endured a schedule of alternating night and day games that prevented them from establishing the daily routine ballplayers rely on. Moreover, they endured seven hours and seven minutes of rain delays in Colorado that tested their powers of concentration.
The Giants demonstrated the extent to which they passed that test while improving to 19-7 in May.
"The guys kept their focus and were ready to go," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Few players can match Vogelsong's ultra-intense focus. He outdid himself this time by reaching new limits with his stamina as he threw a season-high 110 pitches, exceeding his previous standard by 11.
"When you're playing behind him, you see how he gives everything he's got," said second baseman Joe Panik, whose two-run, fifth-inning homer provided most of the Giants' offense. "The fire that's inside of him is contagious."
Performing best with runners on base, Vogelsong improved to 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA in May, compared to 0-2, 9.88 in three April starts. He reiterated his gratitude toward pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen coach Mark Gardner, who helped him correct a flaw in his pitching mechanics after he yielded six runs in three innings at Los Angeles on April 29.
As a result of the coaches' tutelage, Bochy said Vogelsong is "a four-pitch guy with command right now."
Vogelsong summoned his range of skills to escape the challenges created by Khris Davis, who tripled twice -- with one out in the first inning and leading off the fourth. Vogelsong prevented him from scoring both times, largely because Milwaukee's 3-4-5 hitters, Ryan Braun, Adam Lind and Aramis Ramirez, went a combined 2-for-9 off him.
"You're just trying to limit the damage," Vogelsong said.
Denying Davis a run, he added "definitely helped set the tone for the day and helped gain momentum going forward a little bit."
That momentum carried Vogelsong (4-2) to a strong finish. He recovered from a rocky fourth inning, when he surrendered three hits and Milwaukee's lone run, by finally retiring Davis to strand Carlos Gomez on first base and end the fifth. He neutralized Milwaukee's most formidable hitters one inning later. Braun grounded out and Lind singled before Ramirez tapped a double-play grounder.
"The sixth inning was really impressive, coming off a big fifth," Bochy said.
It all looked familiar to Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell, who hit .231 (3-for-13) off Vogelsong during his Major League career.
"He plays back and forth with off-speed and fastball, and he's got a nice, riding fastball," Counsell said. "He's just a pitch-maker, kind of playing with your bat speed a little bit. He's got a fastball with not a lot of velocity, but he keeps it down in the zone and it has life in the zone."