PITTSBURGH (AP) - Ryan Vogelsong pitched like he should be on the All-Star team. And he still was the second-best hurler on the field Saturday.
The San Francisco Giants right-hander put together seven solid innings, but was outdueled by Pittsburgh's James McDonald in a 3-1 loss in which the Giants failed to produce much against one of the hottest pitchers in baseball.
McDonald (9-3) struck out 10 while giving up one run on four hits in seven efficient innings to win his fourth straight start.
``It happens,' Vogelsong said after falling to 7-4. ``Obviously he's having a good season and throwing the ball well. Going in, you know it's going to be a tough game. He just pitched a little bit better than me today.'
That's been a rarity when Vogelsong has been on the hill. He began the day with the best ERA in the National League and finished it in second (2.36), just ahead of McDonald's 2.37.
``We got a good start from Vogelsong, but we ran into one of the better pitched games we've seen,' San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. ``They got some key hits there. We had trouble getting guys on base.'
The Giants only got five balls out of the infield against McDonald. Ryan Theriot and Gregor Blanco had two hits apiece for San Francisco, which has dropped six of eight.
``A couple guys (had) some rough days at the plate but you give (McDonald) credit because he did throw well,' Bochy said. ``He had good stuff, he had it all working today.'
Neil Walker doubled twice and drove in a run while extending his hitting streak to 11 games and Joel Hanrahan worked the ninth to pick up his 23rd save for Pittsburgh. The Pirates have won nine of 11 and are guaranteed at least a share of the NL Central lead through the All-Star break.
Vogelsong and McDonald have pitched like All-Stars all season, but neither earned an invite to Kansas City.
No matter, McDonald will certainly welcome the break after developing into a workhorse.
The 27-year-old right-hander who only made it through seven innings five times in the first four years of his career has now done it eight times in his last 14 starts.
Not even the hottest day in PNC Park's brief history flustered him. McDonald worked efficiently in the 97-degree heat and a 27-minute rain delay in the third inning did little to slow him down.
``I was just getting ahead of guys, being aggressive,' McDonald said. ``I had good fastball command today. I put'em away when I needed to.'
McDonald wasn't bad with the bat, either. Then again, he seems to love hitting against the Giants. He recorded the lone Pittsburgh hit off San Francisco ace Matt Cain in a 5-0 loss on April 13.
McDonald, who bats left-handed, led off the third with a walk and came all the way around from first on Walker's long double to left-center field. McDonald later added a leadoff single in the fifth.
McKenry's seventh homer of the season and fourth in his last 11 games gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead in the fourth and it was more than enough for McDonald.
Masterfully mixing his curveball with a fastball that rarely missed the strike zone, McDonald had little trouble with the Giants. He threw 77 of his 106 pitches for strikes.
McDonald's only hiccup came in the sixth when Blanco singled with two outs, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a liner up the middle by Theriot, who hung in there after falling behind 0-2.
``Those things help you win ballgames,' Bochy said. ``We just couldn't do much.'
Pedro Alvarez provided some insurance in the sixth when he doubled home Andrew McCutchen.
McDonald quickly retired the side in order in the seventh before walking off to a loud ovation from the ninth sellout crowd of the season in a city that is quickly warming to the thought of Pittsburgh as actual contenders.
Jason Grilli struck out the side in the eighth before Hanrahan - who was knocked around a bit recently - took advantage of some brilliant defense by shortstop Clint Barmes as the Pirates moved back to 10 games above .500 (47-37).
``Every time I'm out there, I have a chip on my shoulder,' McDonald said. ``I want to be the guy that shows other teams that we're for real, that we do have quality players here.'
NOTES: The Pirates are 8-0 at home on Saturdays this season ... The series concludes Sunday when Tim Lincecum (3-9, 6.09 ERA) faces Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett (9-2, 3.74).
The Associated Press News Service
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