Vogelsong's effort supported by homers, defense

Vogelsong's effort supported by homers, defense

Vogelsong's effort supported by homers, defense
SEATTLE -- A two-run margin of victory isn't often convincing, but the Giants managed to make it seem that way with Friday night's 4-2 Interleague decision over the Seattle Mariners.

San Francisco, entrenched in second place in the National League West, figured to outclass Seattle, the American League West's last-place occupants. That proved to be the case at Safeco Field, where Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera homered to complement Ryan Vogelsong's seven-plus-inning, four-hit effort and the Giants' typically efficient bullpen.

The Giants also subdued Seattle with their defense, which ultimately may have made the biggest difference of all.

They led, 2-0, when Vogelsong walked Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero to open the fourth inning. Justin Smoak then hit a grounder that forced second baseman Ryan Theriot to race to his left to corral the ball. Theriot gloved it, whirled and one-hopped his relay to second base. Shortstop Joaquin Arias handled the ball cleanly and threw out Smoak, seemingly in one blurry motion.

A conservative infielder might have declined to attempt starting a double play and opted instead for a simple throw to first. Not Theriot.

"The ball had some good pace to it, so I was going to try to get the lead runner if I could," he said.

The rest was up to Arias, who summarized his role simply: "I used my instincts right there," he said, with center fielder Angel Pagan serving as an interpreter.

Vogelsong explained the importance of such contributions.

"What it does is make you pitch to contact, when guys are going to make plays like that," he said. "It really makes you confident to throw the ball over the plate and let them hit it."

Visiting teams have employed this strategy all season at Safeco Field, where Seattle is batting .197. Vogelsong entered the eighth inning with a two-hit shutout before the Mariners combined three consecutive singles with run-scoring groundouts by Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez. But relievers Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo prevented the Mariners from rallying further before Santiago Casilla worked a perfect ninth for his 18th save.

San Francisco has won the last eight games started by Vogelsong (6-2), who has captured his last six decisions. He has worked at least six innings in each of his 12 starts and has gone seven innings or more nine times. Posey attributed Vogelsong's durability to versatility.

"He's able to give guys different looks throughout the course of the game," Posey said.

The Mariners agreed.

"Good command, good fastball, good sink," Montero said. "He can put the ball in the corners good. You just have to be patient with him because he knows how to pitch."

"He was mixing it up pretty well. Pretty much fastball-changeup to most of the lefties, but he throws the fastball up pretty good and mixes everything around," second baseman Dustin Ackley said. "You don't get a first-pitch fastball all the time or he'll mix the changeup in on a hitter's count. That's where he was good."

Vogelsong also can rely upon Matt Cain's perfect game as a source of inspiration.

"I told him before the game today that I'm trying to keep up with him," Vogelsong said. "He's not making it easy."

The Giants are suddenly making slugging look easier. Bereft of power through much of this season, they've amassed eight homers in four games, their third-longest streak of the season. They also homered in the first five games of the year and in six consecutive games from April 23-27.

"I've said that we'll hit more home runs. I really thought we would," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're not a power-hitting club, but this is closer to what we are."

Posey opened the second inning and the Giants' scoring off Mariners starter Jason Vargas (7-6) by launching a 3-2 changeup into the first row of the left-field upper deck for his eighth home run of the season. San Francisco added a run in the fourth as Pagan walked, moved to third on Brandon Belt's double and came home on Arias' sacrifice fly. Then Cabrera followed Gregor Blanco's eighth-inning leadoff single with a drive to left-center field for his sixth homer.

Asked to identify the source of the team's flurry of power, Posey said with a straight face, "What really got us going was Bumgarner's homer."

That would be the long ball that pitcher Madison Bumgarner hit Tuesday that ended the Giants' 16-game homerless streak at AT&T Park.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.