For a starting pitcher, the line is so thin. When are you nibbling and when are you refusing to give in?
Ryan Vogelsong simply will not throw a pitch down Broadway. But he does not take small bites. He battled to go deep again Friday night, pitching through early traffic before settling into a groove. Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera hit home runs as the Giants took a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Second baseman Ryan Theriot and shortstop Joaquin Arias combined on an improbable double play to rescue Vogelsong when he had trouble throwing a strike in the fourth inning. The determined right-hander finally settled down and retired the next nine hitters to give the Giants yet another quality start.
Starting pitching report
Vogelsong (6-2) ran his winning streak to six consecutive decisions after holding the Mariners’ woeful lineup to two runs in seven-plus innings. But his start was nearly better than that.
He carried a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning before consecutive singles sent Giants manager Bruce Bochy to the mound. Both his inherited runners scored, leaving him with a 2.40 ERA.
But Vogelsong relied on some good fortune to escape trouble when he was not sharp at all in the early innings. Jesus Montero hit a ringing double to lead off the second inning and Michael Saunders followed with a wicked line drive to center field. But Angel Pagan had a better read on it than Montero did. Pagan charged the line drive, then lollipopped the ball to the infield to double off the runner.
Vogelsong pitched out of trouble again in the third after Miguel Olivo doubled and Brendan Ryan drew a one-out walk. Vogelsong got Ichiro Suzuki to pop out and then third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a nice, ranging play and running throw to retire Franklin Gutierrez.
The fourth inning was the turning point in the game. Vogelsong kept missing while walking Kyle Seager and Montero, the latter on a 3-1 cutter when he refused to give in and throw a cookie fastball. But Saunders hit a loud out to right field and the middle infield turned a sensational double play on Justin Smoak’s hard ground ball.
Javier Lopez gave up a single to Casper Wells to load the bases in the eighth but he managed to deflect Ichiro’s chopper up the middle that Arias turned into a forceout at second base.
Sergio Romo kept the inning from getting totally out of hand. He got an RBI ground out from Franklin Gutierrez and did a good job covering first base on Kyler Seager’s ground out to Brandon Belt.
Santiago Casilla had his hard fastball and spike curve working while recording his 18th save in 19 chances.
At the plate
The Mariners are frustrated with the hitting conditions in their home ballpark. Sound familiar? It probably has more to do with a deficiency of talent than the spacious dimensions, as Buster Posey demonstrated with his no-doubt home run into the left field seats leading off the second inning.
Posey’s shot was his team-leading eighth of the season and it drew a loud cheer from the crowd, which was at least half orange and especially enthusiastic.
The Giants added a run in the fourth when Angel Pagan drew a leadoff walk and Brandon Belt stayed hot by clearing his hips and turning on a pitch for a double to right field. Pagan slipped around third base, but Arias scored him with a sacrifice fly.
Cabrera took a rip at a pitch in the eighth inning for a two-run shot, his sixth of the season. The ball barely cleared the fence in left-center and it came after Gregor Blanco’s leadoff single.
The Mariners entered the game hitting .198 at Safeco, by the way.
It looked like the Giants would be lucky to get one out on Smoak’s sharp ground ball to the right side in the fourth. They got two.
Theriot made an aggressive play and spun toward second base, even though he had to bounce a difficult throw. Arias made a clean pick of it while sweeping across the bag, then made a firm throw to complete the double play.
Theriot applauded Arias on his way off the field. If not for the shortstop, the play likely would have gone for an error and Vogelsong would’ve been in a world of trouble.
The Mariners announced 29,818 paid for Felix Hernandez bobblehead night. Not sure what all those Giants fans will do with them. If Petco Park has become AT&T Park South, Safeco Field is the Giants’ version of Winterfell.
Tim Lincecum (2-7, 6.00) takes the mound at Safeco Field for the first time Saturday night, when he’ll try to pitch the Giants to victory for the first time since April 24. Right-hander Kevin Millwood (3-5, 3.57) starts for the first time since June 8, when he and five relievers combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers here. Millwood departed that start with a strained groin but was deemed fit to return to the rotation.