(Sports Network) -- The San Francisco Giants aim to pick up right where they
left off when the National League West leaders return to AT&T Park for a 10-
game homestand that begins with tonight's matchup with the San Diego Padres.
The Giants have vaulted to the top of the division in large part due to their
success in defending their turf, as the team's 29-16 home record is tied for
the second-best winning percentage in the majors this season. San Francisco
has won seven of its last nine overall as well to open up a 1 1/2-game edge on
slumping Los Angeles for first place.
The Giants have been especially tough at AT&T Park when Ryan Vogelsong has
been on the hill. The well-traveled right-hander, who gets the call in
tonight's opener of this three-game set, sports a 4-2 record and a sparkling
1.43 earned run average in nine home starts in 2012, and San Francisco has
prevailed in its last seven tests in which he's taken the mound there.
Vogelsong has pitched solidly on the road as well, as illustrated by a strong
six-inning stint in Atlanta this past Wednesday in which he limited the Braves
to one run and four hits while fanning seven over six innings. He wound up
with a no-decision in an eventual 9-4 San Francisco win, but extended his
season-long streak of lasting at least six frames to 17 consecutive starts.
The consistent veteran's 2.31 ERA presently ranks third among NL hurlers, and
he's gone 7-2 with an outstanding 1.99 ERA in 13 assignments since May 8.
Vogelsong does not own a win over the Padres over the course of his career,
however, though he has yet to face them this season. In 10 lifetime matchups,
two of which have been starts, against San Diego, the 35-year-old is 0-2 and
has surrendered 23 runs (22 earned) over a span of 21 1/3 innings.
San Francisco heads back to the West Coast off a successful week-long road
swing in which it won four of six games, though the trip ended on a down note
with Sunday's 4-3 extra-inning loss in Philadelphia.
The Giants tied the contest at 3-3 on Nate Schierholtz's two-out solo homer in
the top of the eighth inning, but failed to muster any offense the rest of the
way and eventually fell when reliever Brad Penny was touched for a run on two
hits and a walk in the bottom of the 12th.
"It was a pretty good (road) trip," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "They
battled hard the whole trip, and we had a lot of tight games, and this one got
away from us."
Schierholtz also led off the game with a solo homer, while starting pitcher
Barry Zito allowed three runs and struck out seven over the first seven
innings despite not factoring in the decision.
While San Francisco has been one of the majors' best home teams, the Padres
enter AT&T Park having won seven of their last eight on the road and five of
their last six overall. The most recent triumph occurred Sunday at Petco Park,
with Will Venable's seventh-inning RBI single providing the difference in a
3-2 decision over Colorado.
Everth Cabrera started the bottom of the seventh with a single and advanced to
second on John Baker's sacrifice bunt before Venable laced a base hit to right
to drive home the go-ahead run.
Venable's hit made a winner out of Dale Thayer, who tossed 1 1/3 innings of
scoreless relief of starter Ross Ohlendorf. Huston Street then followed with a
1-2-3 ninth to notch his 16th save.
Ohlendorf held the Rockies to two runs and five hits while striking out six
over 6 2/3 innings of work.
"All year we've talked about timely hitting and good pitching, and [Sunday]
was a culmination of all that," Padres manager Bud Black said.
San Diego will try to continue its recent surge tonight behind Clayton
Richard, who's pitched well for the club over the last month. The left-hander
owns a 5-3 record with a 2.91 ERA through his past eight starts and has gone
at least six innings on each of those occasions.
Richard came two outs away from his first complete game of 2012 on Wednesday,
finishing with 8 1/3 innings in an 8-4 victory over Houston. He surrendered
four runs on nine hits in improving to 7-10 on the year.
The 28-year-old is 5-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 10 lifetime starts against San
Francisco, but two of those losses occurred earlier this season. That included
a 4-1 setback at AT&T Park on Apr. 29 in which Richard was reached for four
runs in seven innings.
The Giants took two of three bouts from the Padres in a series held in San
Francisco in late April and is 4-2 against San Diego this season. In addition,
San Diego has lost in eight of its last 10 visits to AT&T Park.
The Sports Network