SAN DIEGO -- Ryan Vogelsong's refusal to give in has elevated his performance with the Giants. Sunday, this same quality may have taken him down.Vogelsong steadfastly refused to admit that Everth Cabrera's marathon plate appearance to lead off San Diego's first inning shaped the entire afternoon. But numerous others disagreed after the Giants' 7-1 loss. Despite the defeat that knocked them into second place in the National League West, the Giants' mood was anything but grim as they anticipated the three-game showdown beginning Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lead them by a half-game. "I think everybody's excited for it," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "This is the fun part of the season, when you get into crunch time like this. The intensity level rises. I think everybody's excited. You can feel it in the locker room. It's time to do some damage." The most subdued Giant in the clubhouse was Vogelsong (10-7), who yielded three first-inning runs and was removed after surrendering his eighth hit, Cabrera's fourth-inning leadoff single. The right-hander has allowed 11 runs in two outings, more than he permitted in any of the season's previous four months. Vogelsong needed 35 pitches, an alarmingly high number, to complete the first inning. His primary irritant was Cabrera, who asserted himself and taxed Vogelsong with a 13-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off seven consecutive 3-2 pitches. Cabrera struck out, but the Padres felt fortified. "I think that changed the whole game," center fielder Cameron Maybin said. "You could kind of see the frustration in Vogelsong from that at-bat, and it just carried over. We fed off that energy from that at-bat." "Anytime you get a guy having to throw that many pitches to get through an inning, it bodes well for you later in the game," third baseman Chase Headley said. "So I think that really put him on the ropes and set the stage for us." "From Vogelsong's shoes, that's not a great way to start a game," Padres manager Bud Black said. Even Giants manager Bruce Bochy believed that Vogelsong's laborious first inning in general and Cabrera's role in particular made a difference. "It's probably going to catch up with you," Bochy said. "You lose a little bit of your command, and that was the case with Vogey." Once again, Vogelsong wouldn't give in as he tersely discussed his effort. Asked to describe the effect that Cabrera's initial at-bat had on him, Vogelsong replied, "Zero. It was 13 pitches." Vogelsong's outing recalled his 2 2/3-inning stint against Washington last Monday, when he yielded eight runs and nine hits, including seven singles. "My stuff was OK today," Vogelsong said, pointing out that all of San Diego's hits off him were singles, including two broken-bat hits in the first. "Once again, I can't control where the ball goes after it comes out of my hand. ... When it's that many, it's a little frustrating. But that's part of the game. It happens." Cabrera remained productive all day. The Padres shortstop hastened Vogelsong's departure by seeing 30 pitches in their three confrontations. Cabrera finished 3-for-5 with a two-run, fifth-inning double off Jose Mijares as the Padres ended a five-game losing streak. The Giants won two of three games in this series, which will be their goal at Los Angeles.
"Same mindset as normal," said right-hander Matt Cain, Wednesday's scheduled starter against left-hander Chris Capuano.As Belt suggested, the traditional rivals' proximity in the standings is bound to enliven the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium. But some protagonists will try not to attach too much importance to this series. Among those striving to maintain perspective was left-hander Madison Bumgarner, Monday's starter against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Bumgarner called his upcoming outing no different from any other. "I just need to make sure I'm prepared and on my game," Bumgarner said. "If I do that, the rest will take care of itself."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.