Vogelsong, Giants bullpen stymie Nationals

Vogelsong, Giants bullpen stymie Nationals

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants finally got the best of Stephen Strasburg, defeating the right-hander for the first time in seven tries to emerge with a 3-1 victory in Thursday night's opener of a four-game series.

The Giants tallied their only pair of runs off Strasburg (6-6) in the first inning as their first four batters reached base safely. Gregor Blanco tripled and scored on Matt Duffy's single. After Brandon Belt walked, Buster Posey drilled a first-pitch RBI single. That mini-outburst enabled San Francisco to overcome Yunel Escobar's leadoff homer.

Belt's seventh-inning bloop single drove in the Giants' final run and helped preserve the decision for Ryan Vogelsong (8-8), who struck out a season-high eight in five innings.

"I guess I had deception on my fastball and a little extra zip," Vogelsong said.

The Giants' bullpen blanked the Nats for the final four innings, with Santiago Casilla pitching the ninth for his 28th save.

Belt's RBI single

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Bochy on pitching in Giants' win

Five and thrive: Vogelsong made the most of his brief appearance, ending three innings with strikeouts as if for emphasis. But the biggest out he recorded probably was Wilson Ramos' grounder to second base that ended the first inning and left the bases loaded. Vogelsong's first-inning pitch count was an inflated 29.

"He had good stuff tonight, but the first inning probably took a toll on him," Bochy said.

Escobar's solo homer

Nats shut it down after Escobar homer: After the leadoff homer by Escobar, the Nats collected three walks. They loaded the bases with two outs in the first, but Ramos grounded out to end the threat. In the fourth inning, the Nationals had runners on first and third with one out, but Michael Taylor popped out to second base and Strasburg struck out to end the threat.

"I think, for the most part, we are not even swinging at [the fastball]. We need to swing at the fastball. Get in a count. It may be the first pitch of the at-bat. You never know," manager Matt Williams said. "If you get to swing at the fastball, we need to do that." More >

Blanco gets it going: Batting .362 (21-for-58) from the leadoff spot, Blanco scored two of the Giants' three runs. He has tallied 13 runs in 15 games when batting leadoff. "I think that leadoff spot can set the tone," Bochy said.

Strasburg looks strong: After allowing two runs in the first inning, Strasburg got back on track, tossing five shutout innings and striking out six batters. The right-hander totaled eight strikeouts.

Strasburg acknowledged that he wasn't comfortable on the mound in the first inning, but managed to straighten things out by the second.

"I tried to battle through the first inning and keep it close," Strasburg said. "The mechanics started to sink in a little bit. I started to mix the pitches more. Obviously, they were swinging first pitch a lot in that [first] inning. I wanted to keep establishing the fastball and get that going because everything needed to fall into place. I just made some mistakes." More >

Harper throws out Posey

Harper shows off the cannon: In the bottom of the third, the Giants threatened to extend their lead after Buster Posey hit a one-out double. When Hunter Pence shot a single through the right side of the infield, it looked like Posey had a shot at scoring. However, Bryce Harper fired the ball home and Ramos caught the ball on one bounce to get Posey at the plate. According to Statcast™, Harper's throw was tracked at 91.347 mph, his fifth-fastest recorded throw this season. More >

WHAT'S NEXT
Nationals: Max Scherzer will take the mound on Friday night at 10:15 p.m. ET. In his last start, the Nationals' ace gave up a season-high three home runs against the Rockies, lasting six innings for the second straight start. Scherzer also allowed eight hits, which is his second-highest total this year.

Giants: Matt Cain, who's in need of a resurgence, will confront the Nationals in a 7:15 p.m. PT start. Cain is 0-2 with a 7.80 ERA in his last three starts. He's also 5-5 with three complete games lifetime against Washington.

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Chris Haft and Bill Ladson are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.