Ryan Vogelsong had a Tim Lincecum-esque start on Thursday afternoon in Chicago. But like Lincecum, he barred down and let his offense bail him out, which they certainly did.
The Giants won Game 1 of a four-game series, against the Chicago Cubs, 7-6, behind a four-run fourth inning. Vogelsong, despite allowing five runs over the first three innings, kept the deficit close, and went on to pitch six innings in which he allowed four earned runs (five runs total) on eight hits while issuing only one walk.
Vogelsong didn’t get much from his defense in the second inning when he allowed his first run. Brent Lillibridge grounded into a fielder’s choice to Brandon Belt, who opted to throw to second in attempt to turn a double play. With the pitcher on deck, it might’ve been wise to take the safe bet at first. Still, the Giants got an out at second, but Brandon Crawford threw wild back to first base on the relay, which allowed Nate Schierholtz to score.
Anthony Rizzo homered off Vogelsong in the third inning after Starlin Castro blooped a double into right field with one out.
Vogelsong retired Alfonso Soriano after yielding the blast, but he then allowed three batters to reach base, which set-up Lillibridge’s two-run single. The Cubs held an early a 5-0 lead in the third.
But like the Giants did on Friday night against the Colorado Rockies, they came back with a pair of big innings.
Hunter Pence and Nick Noonan, who went 3-for-5 in his first MLB start, both singled. With Pence on third and Noonan on first, Castro let Vogelsong’s routine ground ball roll between his legs, allowing Pence to score and Noonan to advance to third base.
To make the error hurt even more, Angel Pagan scored on an infield single. Rizzo did make a mental mistake on Pagan’s slow roller, however. The inexperienced first baseman reached too far over to field the ground ball and left first base vacant. The mental error, of course, was not knowing that his second baseman was directly behind him to field the grounder.
The disaster continued, as Brandon Crawford was hit by a pitch and Pablo Sandoval blooped a two-run double into left field to score Vogelsong and Pagan. Just like that, the score was only 5-4.
Vogelsong settled in nicely. He pitched a perfect fifth inning and a perfect sixth inning and contributed to a fifth inning rally with a bases loaded, running score walk.
Brandon Belt singled and Gregor Blanco walked before Cubs’ starter Scott Feldman was taken out for Hisanori Takahashi. Nick Noonan’s single loaded the bases for Vogelsong, who walked to tie the game.
Pagan picked up another RBI on a sacrifice fly to score Blanco to give the Giants a 6-5 lead. The Giants extend their lead on Brandon Crawford’s RBI single that scored Noonan from second base.
The Cubs scored one run in the eighth inning off Jeremy Affeldt, but Sergio Romo worked around a double in the ninth to preserve the victory.