SAN FRANCISCO -- Saturday began on a high note for the Giants, who welcomed back Marco Scutaro to his customary second spot in the lineup for the first time all season. It ended on an all too familiar one, with starter Ryan Vogelsong giving a strong outing in a losing cause, the victim of a remarkable lack of run support.
The Giants lost 2-0 to the Diamondbacks, with left-hander Wade Miley and two relievers combining to hand them their fifth shutout loss in 13 games. They have now not scored a single run for Vogelsong in four consecutive starts. Vogelsong has allowed eight earned runs in 24 2/3 innings over that span and is 0-4.
The Giants said Vogelsong is the franchise’s first pitcher to go four straight starts without any run support in a single season since Lynn McGlothen in 1977. Manager Bruce Bochy admitted after the game that, "It’s got to be a little frustrating," for the right-hander, who pitched into the seventh inning Saturday allowing two runs while battling a cold.
Vogelsong, though, wouldn’t acknowledge as much.
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"No, it happens," he said. "We’ll be fine. It’s kind of crazy that this keeps happening to me. But it’s stuff you go through during the season, and it’s like anything else, an injury or not playing good. You keep fighting it and come out the other side."
The Giants managed just four hits, all singles, against Miley, and saw a potential rally in the fifth fizzle when Gregor Blanco hit a leadoff single, then was picked off first base as Vogelsong prepared to sacrifice him over.
"The pickoff hurt," Bochy said. "We had nothing on, we’re bunting him over. We can’t get picked off in that situation."
With two on and one out in the seventh, Blanco hit a grounder to Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and was originally ruled to have beaten Goldschmidt’s flip to Miley covering the bag. But upon review, umpires ruled Miley had tagged Blanco before he reached the base, and Goldschmidt then snared pinch hitter Hector Sanchez’s line drive for the final out of the inning.
Afterward, left fielder Michael Morse was asked to explain the Giants’ recent acute lack of offense and replied: "I don’t know. It’s baseball."
Told fans might be hoping for more of an explanation, Morse repeated: "I don’t know what to tell you.
"The only people frustrated are you guys," Morse said, indicating reporters. "We’re trying to play our best. … We’ve got 25 guys coming in every day to win. There’s no stopping that."
But it would help if the bats got going.
* Scutaro, absent for the first 93 games of the season with a back strain, came up for his first at-bat to a loud ovation from an announced crowd of 41,261 at AT&T Park as "Back in Black" by AC/DC played over the speaker system -- and drew a six-pitch walk without taking the bat off his shoulder.
Scutaro later made a nifty play on defense in the second, charging Gerardo Parra’s slow grounder and glove-flipping the ball to Brandon Belt at first base for the out. He overall looked pretty nimble for all the problems his back has given him since last year, but did say later that his back tightened up over the course of the game.
"I kind of expected it," he said. "I know my back is not 100 percent, so just trying to fight through, take it day by day and go from there."
That remains the theme for Scutaro, who said the temperamental nature of his back still makes it difficult to predict when or how often he’ll be in the lineup. For now, it sounds like it’s literally a day-to-day proposition, depending largely on how Scutaro feels when he wakes up on a given morning.
In the case of Saturday, Bochy said, "I thought he looked fine first game back. It looked like he saw the ball well … We can’t expect too much, he just got back, but I thought he looked fine."
Scutaro hit a line drive to left field on his first swing that was caught, and grounded out to second in the sixth inning. He acknowledged that the ovations he received when lineups were announced before the game and before his first at-bats were "a nice moment."
* Among the few positives for the Giants was the outing of Sergio Romo, who entered in the eighth inning, faced five batters and struck out three of them. Romo struck out Aaron Hill and Martin Prado with two runners on to end the eighth. He allowed a leadoff double to Parra in the ninth, but got Didi Gregorius to pop out and struck out Mark Trumbo, with Javier Lopez then coming on to retire Ender Inciarte for the final out.
"He’s hitting his spots a lot better now," Bochy said of Romo. "He’s got a little more depth I think to his breaking ball, using his fastball well, commanding it. … It looks like he’s getting his confidence back, which is big."
* Bochy also said Belt had an encouraging day at the plate. Belt, still regaining his timing after a long layoff with a fractured finger, reached base three times with a single and two walks and Bochy said he believes Belt "has quieted down" and "is seeing the ball better."
* One might look at the Giants over the last month and think, there’s a team that needs the All-Star Break in the worst way. Not so, said Bochy.
"I hope they want to play, fight their way out of this," he said. "That’s, I think, the worst thing that could happen to a club -- looking at a break and (saying) we need a break. A break doesn’t always fix things. Best way to fix things is go out there and play."
They have one more chance before the break with Sunday’s series finale against Arizona. The Diamondbacks announced a pitching change, with left-hander Vidal Nuno now their starter instead of Chase Anderson. The Giants will send All-Star Madison Bumgarner to the mound searching for his 10th win of the ceremonial first half. First pitch at 1:05 p.m.