San Francisco Giants

Vogelsong keeps game close, but Giants still can’t score for him

Both parties involved must believe that at some point the Giants’ offense will again give Ryan Vogelsong the same chance to win a game that he keeps giving the Giants.

In his last four starts, Vogelsong has allowed a total of eight earned runs in 242/3 innings. He has lost all four, in no small part because the Giants have not scored a single run for Vogelsong over that stretch.

Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley and two relievers combined to hand the Giants their fifth shutout loss in 13 games Saturday – a 2-0 decision in which Vogelsong became the first Giants pitcher to have four consecutive starts in the same season with no run support since Lynn McGlothen in 1977.

The last time the Giants scored a run for Vogelsong, who enters the All-Star break with a 5-7 record with a 3.86 ERA, was June 21. Manager Bruce Bochy said after Saturday’s game that the lack of support has “got to be a little frustrating” for Vogelsong. But the right-hander, who pitched into the seventh and allowed two runs to the Diamondbacks while battling a cold, refused to acknowledge as much.

“No, it happens,” Vogelsong said. “We’ll be fine. It’s kind of crazy 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 showed some offensive life in winning the series opener Friday night and on Saturday welcomed Marco Scutaro back to the lineup in his customary No. 2 spot. But they managed just four hits against Miley, all singles, while the top four hitters in their order combined to go 0 for 15 and reach base one time – on Scutaro’s first-inning walk.

Their best scoring chance came in the seventh inning when Brandon Belt drew a one-out walk and Joaquin Arias followed with a single. But Miley retired Gregor Blanco on a groundout to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and with runners on second and third, pinch hitter Hector Sanchez hit a line drive that Goldschmidt snared on a dive to end the inning.

Previously, Blanco had led off the fifth with a single. But in a 1-0 game, with Vogelsong preparing to bunt him over to second base, Blanco was picked off first base by Miley.

“We had nothing on, we’re bunting him over. We can’t get picked off in that situation,” Bochy said. “But (Miley’s) got a good move and picked him off.”

Vogelsong, meanwhile, continued to be antagonized by Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill, who entered the game 11 for 22 in his career against Vogelsong and collected two key hits – a solo homer in the fourth inning and a leadoff double in the seventh. After the latter, Hill scored on a one-out single by Gerardo Parra, which ended the outing for Vogelsong after 92 pitches.

Vogelsong wore an exasperated look as Bochy approached the mound to relieve him, but afterward said, “Nothing to it. Just wanted to stay in the game, that’s all.”

Instead, he became a spectator to the remainder of a game that began on a high note with the return of Scutaro, who had missed the first 93 games of the season with a back strain.

Scutaro came up for his first at-bat to a loud ovation from an announced crowd of 41,261 at AT&T Park, while AC/DC’s “Back in Black” played over the speaker system, and he drew a six-pitch walk without taking the bat off his shoulder. He then made a nifty play on defense in the second, charging Parra’s slow grounder and glove-flipping the ball to Belt at first base for the out.

“I thought he looked fine first game back,” Bochy said. “Looked like he saw the ball well. … We can’t expect too much, he just got back, but I thought he looked fine.”

Scutaro said his back tightened up some later in the game, which he “kind of expected … I know my back is not 100 percent, so just trying to fight through.” The temperamental nature of his back issues, he said, makes it difficult to predict how regularly he’ll be in the lineup in the second half.

His presence alone had been heralded by several Giants in recent days as a positive for a team that nears the All-Star break in a month-long funk. The sense was that Scutaro, as a veteran player, has been through these types of losing stretches before and might be able to help the Giants weather this one. Saturday, he was asked how the Giants can go about turning things around.

“Just start playing as a team, I guess,” he said. “Just offense and defense work together and you’ll see the results.

“Everybody knows as a team it’s almost impossible to play the way we were playing for six months. These times are going to come sooner or later. It’s just a matter of staying strong and staying together as a team, and keep fighting. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so there’s still a long way to go.”

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