The Pittsburgh Pirates had a chance to regain sole possession of first place on Sunday, but Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong shut down any chance of that as he led the Giants to a 4-0 victory.
A.J. Burnett and Vogelsong dueled for eight innings before the Giants pulled away. With a 1-0 lead in the eighth, Pablo Sandoval tripled to right field on Burnett’s 116th pitch, which scored Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. Reliever Tony Watson came and gave up a double to Joaquin Arias, allowing Sandoval to give the Giants a 4-0 lead.
The Pirates were shut out for the first time in over two months, as the Giants right-hander dominated after a return from a three month disabled list hiatus. Vogelsong went eight innings surrendering two hits and retiring eight of the last nine batters he faced.
Burnett was nearly as good until running into trouble late. He went 7 1/3 innings giving up four runs on eight hits and retired six straight before Posey’s single in the eighth.
It was Burnett, showing veteran presence after the game, who stepped up in the locker room.
“That’s why we’re here, to play for those moments,” Burnett had reminded them. “As bad as the results turned out, just being out there in that situation, it’s awesome. You want different results, but that’s the reason we’re here.”
The bats once again failed to support the veteran’s efforts, but Burnett was ready to pick his team up after a disappointing end to the West Coast road trip, where the Pirates went 4-3.
Pittsburgh will need their starters to carry them down the stretch, but hopefully the bats can add the extra spark needed to hold off the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds in the battle for October.
The Pirates will depend on strong outings from Burnett, along with leadership moments like Sunday from the veteran if the team hopes to have a successful playoff run. Pittsburgh’s offense is lackluster so they will have to depend on the righty to lead the way.