Bucs struggle, lose to SF again
SAN FRANCISCO – A.J. Burnett has been tough on the San Francisco Giants no matter what uniform he wears. For seven innings, he was doing it again.
Ryan Vogelsong, who has not pitched particularly well against his former team, did Burnett one better Sunday, tossing eight sharp innings and leading the Giants to a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Burnett allowed more than two runs to the Giants for just the second time in nine career starts, giving up all four on eight hits over his 7 1-3 innings. He walked three and struck out six.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to their pitcher,” Burnett said. “He came in and shut us down.”
While Vogelsong faced just two over the minimum, Burnett wasn’t giving into the Giants much. With the exception of a two-out rally in the third, Burnett was having his way with the Giants until Pablo Sandoval tripled against him to drive in a pair of insurance runs.
“I came after him in that situation,” Burnett said. “It was a decent pitch. He pulled his hands in and put a good swing on it.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had just visited with Burnett a batter before and felt good about leaving him in.
“I have a lot of confidence in A.J. where we were right there,” Hurdle said. “I figured he would find a way to get out of it and he didn’t. He got three ground balls in the eighth inning and one that could have been a double play.”
The Pirates finished a 16-game stretch in which they played 13 on the road with a 6-10 mark. More importantly, they still have a share of first-place in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals losing to the Atlanta Braves.
The Pirates return home to host the Milwaukee Brewers for three games before hosting the Cardinals in a three-game series next weekend.
Vogelsong (3-4) allowed two hits, struck out five and walked one in his first win since May 20 against Washington. The right-hander used his longest outing of the season to lower his ERA to 2.55 in four starts since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 9.
Burnett (6-9) fell to 2-3 in 10 starts since returning from the DL.
Sandy Rosario finished the three-hitter for San Francisco’s 11th shutout. The Pirates have been shut out nine times this season.
Vogelsong, who recorded his first decision since coming off the disabled list, faced just two over the minimum, retiring eight of the final nine batters he faced.
“It just seemed whatever we were looking for, something else came out of his hand,” Hurdle said. “We just didn’t square him up a whole lot throughout the game. We just had a couple of opportunities. We weren’t able to adjust or complicate things for him.”
Burnett was nearly as good until running into trouble late. He retired six straight after Posey’s RBI single and then retired six straight again before Posey’s single in the eighth.
Game notes: LHP Jeff Locke (9-4, 3.01 ERA) gets the start for the Pirates when they begin a series against Milwaukee on Tuesday night. He’s 1-2 in seven starts since the All-Star break. … Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games against the Giants. … The Pirates are 5-0-2 in series of at least four games. … The Giants finished 11-23 against the NL Central, the second-worst record of any NL team against that division.