Giants-Pirates Preview

The Associated PressJuly 7, 2012

The ERAs of Ryan Vogelsong and James McDonald are among the NL's five best, but neither pitcher will be taking part in Tuesday's All-Star game.

That could leave them with an extra bit of motivation in their final starts before the break.

The Giants have won 10 of Vogelsong's past 11 starts heading into Saturday's duel with McDonald, who looks to win his fourth straight outing while helping the Pirates avoid rare back-to-back home losses.

An unmitigated disaster while posting a 6.94 ERA in 33 starts spanning four seasons in Pittsburgh, Vogelsong's career has been reborn with San Francisco (46-38). After posting a 2.28 first-half ERA in 2011 to earn an All-Star spot, Vogelsong (7-3, 2.26 ERA) leads the NL in that category so far this season.

He didn't get the call this July despite going at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs in 10 of his last 12 starts. That's how long he lasted again Sunday immediately after manager Bruce Bochy told him he was left off the All-Star roster, yielding only a two-run homer and two singles in the Giants' 4-3 walk-off win over Cincinnati.

"He pitches with an edge. That works for him," Bochy told the team's official website. "He had the same focus that I've seen. That's why I talked to him early (about the snub); I didn't want him getting the news late. His focus was on the game today and he pitched another great game."

Vogelsong, who's pitching for the second time as a visitor at PNC Park, is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in three starts against the Pirates (46-37).

McDonald (8-3, 2.45) hasn't been quite as consistent as Vogelsong, but he's won his last three starts behind an astounding 26 runs of support. He overcame a rocky first inning that featured three walks and a run to hold Houston to one more run over the next six in Monday's 11-2 win.

"Happy the way I recovered,'' said McDonald, who has the NL's fourth-best ERA. "I think that's the big difference between last year and this year. I would have let things start to spiral. This year, I'm better at recovering and picking myself back up and getting to it.''

Run support hasn't been there when the right-hander has faced San Francisco. McDonald is 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA in four starts against the Giants as his teams have given him a total of one run of support.

The Pirates managed just one hit against Matt Cain on April 13 at AT&T Park as McDonald allowed three runs in 5 2-3 innings.

He'll take the mound trying to help the Pirates avoid their first back-to-back losses at home since May 22-23. Pittsburgh led 3-0 after three innings in Friday's opener before the Giants scored five times off Erik Bedard in the fourth and snapped a three-game skid with a 6-5 win.

"After a tough series in Washington, one of our harder losses that we've had all year last night, flying in here, that's a great way to bounce back,'' Bochy said.

While Vogelsong and McDonald won't be headed to Kansas City, they'll each be pitching to an outfielder who is.

San Francisco's Melky Cabrera homered and singled Friday for his 25th multihit game in his last 50. He's the majors' second-leading hitter behind Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, who tripled and had three hits to raise his average to .360 in his 12th multihit contest in his last 19.

McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, who rank second and third in the majors in OPS since June 16, are a combined 2 for 15 with eight strikeouts versus Vogelsong.