Sandoval's triple makes winner out of Vogelsong, Giants

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Pablo Sandoval huffed and puffed, Ryan Vogelsong could finally exhale.
The San Francisco Giants pitcher knew all his hard work would be rewarded.
Sandoval belted a two-run triple in the eighth inning to break open a 1-0 game, helping Vogelsong record his first win since May in a 4-0 victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Coupled with Saturday' s 6-3 win, the Giants earned a series split with the National League Central co-leaders thanks to their first back-to-back wins at home in more than a month.
It had been longer than that -- 14 weeks to be exact -- since Vogelsong won -- that was two broken bones in his pitching hand ago.
"It's nice to get results. You work so hard," assured Vogelsong (3-4), whose previous win had come on the same night -- May 20 against Washington -- on which he broke his hand while batting.
The start was the right-hander's fourth since the injury. He felt he pitched well enough to win his previous effort -- Tuesday against Boston -- before leaving a tie game that the Giants eventually won 3-2.
"It' s nice to have two solid outings in a row like that," he said. "It establishes some momentum."
The 2011 All-Star pitched easily his best game of the season, allowing only third- and seventh-inning singles by Andrew Lambo and Andrew McCutchen.
Yet Vogelsong was sweating out a 1-0 game as he stood in the dugout in the bottom of the eighth inning, knowing he'd thrown his last pitch.
That's when Sandoval allowed him to relax.
Despite giving up an RBI single to Buster Posey in the third inning, Pirates starter A.J. Burnett matched his Giants counterpart nearly pitch-for-pitch until the reigning NL Most Valuable Player's second hit ignited a game-breaking uprising in the eighth.
After Hunter Pence's single put runners on first and third with one out, Sandoval launched a high fly that one-hopped the bricks at the 421-foot mark in right-center field, easily scoring Posey and Pence. The hefty third baseman rumbled into third with his first triple of the season.
"I just ran hard," he said. "That's 421 feet out there. You're not going to hit it out in that part of the ballpark very often, so I just started running."
Sandoval insisted his trademark smile as he coasted into third was more for Vogelsong's success than his own 270-foot dash.
"To see him throw the ball like he did today, that's why I was excited," he said. "In the field and at bat. I just tried as hard as I could to help him out."
Joaquin Arias' two-out double off reliever Tony Watson capped the scoring.
Vogelsong, who entered the game with a 6.29 ERA, went a career-best-tying eight innings, striking out five and walking one, before turning the ball over to Sandy Rosario.
Benefiting from the Giants' three-run eighth, Rosario comfortably closed out the club's first shutout since July 19 despite allowing an inning-opening single to pinch-hitter Felix Pie in the ninth.
"A.J. pitched a great game today," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "What you saw from (Vogelsong), that's the art of pitching. East, west, north and south (in the strike zone), we just couldn't adjust."
Burnett was charged with all four runs. He pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits. He struck out six and walked three.
Despite the loss, the Pirates completed a winning Western swing, going 4-3 against San Diego and Giants. Pittsburgh won two of three against the Padres earlier in the week.
The Giants out-hit the Pirates, 9-3. Sandoval and Posey had two hits apiece.
NOTES: The combined shutout was the Giants' 11th of the season. ... Sandoval has 15 triples in his career, but hadn't had one since Aug. 18 of last season at San Diego. ... The Giants' last set of consecutive home wins had come in the first two games after the All-Star break, July 19-20 against the NL West leader at the time, the Arizona Diamondbacks. ... Burnett had a wild pitch in the game, the 143rd of his career. No active pitcher has recorded more. ... Having split the four-game set in San Francisco, the Pirates are now 5-0-2 in their series of four or more games this season. ... The Pirates announced before the game that RHP Gerrit Cole would be pushed back two days in the rotation -- from Tuesday to Thursday -- in order to give him a full week's rest between starts. The move also sets up All-Star LHP Jeff Locke to pitch twice this week, including in Sunday's finale of a critical three-game series against the Cardinals.