The Pittsburgh Pirates have an off day Monday as they prepare for a six-game homestand. Good thing, because they look like they could use the rest.
Former Pirates pitcher Ryan Vogelsong continued his comeback from injury, throwing eight shutout innings at the Bucs in Sunday’s 4-0 Giants win at AT&T Park. The two teams split the four-game series in San Francisco, giving the Pirates a 4-3 West Coast road trip.
The Pirates (76-54) remained tied for first place in the National League Central, as the Cardinals also lost to keep the division deadlocked. Still, Pittsburgh missed a chance to win its second straight series by dropping two in a row to the struggling 2012 World Series champions.
The last-place Giants (58-72) put the game out of reach with a three-run eighth inning. With Pirates starter A.J. Burnett still in the game, Pablo Sandoval lashed a two-run double to right-center, putting the home side ahead 3-0 and ending Burnett’s otherwise strong effort. Tony Watson relieved and permitted Joaquin Arias to pop an RBI double for the final run.
In the ninth, pinch-hitter Felix Pie reached with a leadoff single against Giants righty Sandy Rosario, but Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen went down in order to end the game. The Pirates mustered just three singles, two of which against Vogelsong, who changed speeds and locations en route to a gem against his old team.
Vogelsong struck out five and walked one, only getting in trouble a couple of times. Andrew Lambo singled and reached second with two outs in the third before getting stranded, then McCutchen motored into second base with one out in the seventh, powered by an infield single and a throwing error by third baseman Sandoval.
Sandoval and Posey had two hits each for the Giants, who won 6-3 Saturday night after 10-5 and 3-1 defeats Wednesday and Thursday.
Burnett threw 116 pitches, fanning six but allowing eight hits and three walks. He retired the first two batters in the third, but a walk and hit batsman gave Posey a chance to drive in the game’s first run with an opposite-field single to right. Burnett escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth and cruised until the eighth, when Hunter Pence and Posey singled in the span of two batters to start the frame.