SAN FRANCISCO -- It's tough to determine how much the Giants missed Ryan Vogelsong while he was on the disabled list for nearly three months, but the right-hander provided a clearer picture Sunday.

For games like this, they missed him a lot. A vintage Vogelsong went to the mound against a very good Pittsburgh Pirates team and pitched eight innings of two-hit ball in a 4-0 Giants victory.

Two singles, a walk, a hit batter. That's all he surrendered over his eight innings and 98 pitches. He said that if he hadn't been battling a bad head cold, he might have been able to complete the first shutout of his major league career.

"I was pretty wiped out," Vogelsong said. "They did the right thing by going to a fresh arm. It was more important to get the team win."

San Francisco Giants’ Gregor Blanco, left, is congratulated by teammate Brandon Belt (9) after scoring a run on a Buster Posey single against the
San Francisco Giants' Gregor Blanco, left, is congratulated by teammate Brandon Belt (9) after scoring a run on a Buster Posey single against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco on Aug. 25, 2013. (Tony Avelar/AP)

That would be a second consecutive win, the first time the Giants accomplished that at AT&T Park since July 19-20.

In short, it was a lot like old times, not only with a stoic Vogelsong mowing down hitters but also with a slimmer, fleeter Pablo Sandoval delivering a well-struck big hit. Sandoval's eighth-inning, two-run triple to right-center was his most impressive stroke in weeks and broke open a tight game between Vogelsong and the Pirates' A.J. Burnett (6-9).

But the sight of Vogelsong tossing one of the best games of the year for the Giants did wonders for their morale and refreshed memories of when he took the ball every fifth day.


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"He's a horse," said Buster Posey, who had two hits and drove in the Giants' first run in the third inning. "He's a guy that brings a certain intensity every time he's out there. We definitely missed that."

"It's a joy to be behind him," said Hunter Pence. "He's so intense, he's such a competitor, it feeds into everyone. That's what this game is about, it's about that grit. And whether he has the kind of success he had today or not, you know you're always going to get that grit, that intensity."

Vogelsong (3-4) has had better velocity, but his command of all four of his pitches was exemplary as he worked both sides of the plate as well as ever. Whatever was missing before he went on the disabled list, he's got it back.

"He really put on a show out there on the art of pitching," manager Bruce Bochy said.

So what's changed?

"It's more mechanical," he said. "Early in the season, I couldn't find anything that was comfortable. I was just out there battling through innings, but I worked on some things with Gardy and Rags (pitching coaches Mark Gardner and Dave Righetti), and I've just been able to execute them in the game."

As for Sandoval, he seems to finally be finding his bearings at the plate even though he still hasn't homered since July 12, covering 135 at-bats. But his triple came close and would have been out of most parks. Perhaps most significant is that he stung the ball in a big situation, then showed the fruits of his recent weight loss by motoring around the bases with renewed speed.

"I was excited," said Sandoval, who is 17 for 42 (.405) with 11 RBIs over his last 12 games. "When I saw the ball going to right field, I just put my head down and started running."

He said he feels a lot better in the field, too. He made a leaping grab of an Andrew McCutchen liner in the first and a diving grab of a McCutchen shot in the hole in the seventh. He threw wild to first, but he might not have reached the ball a month ago.

"I have more range, I lost 20 pounds," he said. "I feel good. And we've played great games two days in a row. All the pieces are starting to go together."

That's important for all of the Giants, even if they're out of the postseason hunt.

"There's a lot of baseball left," Pence said. "So we're going to get out there and try to treat every game like it's a playoff game."

Vogelsong's on board with that mentality. He said it's important for him to finish the season strong to have a good frame of mind for 2014.

"At this point, that's the goal," he said. "I feel like I'm on the way to that. I just need to keep doing what I'm doing right now and roll with that."

  • Matt Cain and Jeremy Affeldt, both on the D.L., traveled to Arizona on Sunday to continue their rehab work. Affeldt (groin strain) will throw his second bullpen session Monday. As for Cain, who has a bruised right forearm, Bochy said there is no throwing schedule as of yet.