SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - If Ryan Vogelsong needed a reminder about how difficult it will be to recreate his sensational season from year ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates gave it to him in his first start of 2012.
The Pirates pounced on the right-hander for two quick runs, handing the Giants a 4-1 loss Sunday that snapped San Francisco's three-game winning streak.
``Just inconsistent,' said Vogelsong, who allowed two runs on four hits in 6 2-3 innings. ``Fighting myself all day just trying to find some kind of rhythm. I was kind of in-and-out today with it.'
Even a sharp outing by Vogelsong might not be sharp enough this year.
Kevin Correia pitched six effective innings and Garrett Jones homered to help the Pirates end a five-game losing streak. Correia threw 91 pitches - only 29 for balls - before three relievers labored with 76 pitches in a 3-hour, 15-minute game that seemed over so much sooner.
``That's probably not the way you draw it up,' Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
After a slow start, the Pirates will take a win any way they can.
Jones' first homer of the season and Alex Presley's RBI single during a two-run second inning off Vogelsong (0-1) supplied all the power Pittsburgh needed.
Correia (1-0) allowed one run and three hits. He was only nicked by Emmanuel Burriss' RBI grounder in the fifth to snap San Francisco's three-game winning streak.
``It's a big one. But any win at this point is big,' Correia said.
Two relievers pitched scoreless ball before Joel Hanrahan worked out of a jam in the ninth for his first save this season.
Hanrahan walked two of the first three batters to bring the potential tying run to the plate with one out. He then got Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan on flyballs to ensure Pittsburgh avoided a second straight series sweep.
The victory also handed San Francisco a loss heading into a marquee series against Philadelphia in a rematch of the 2010 NL championship series.
``It was a strange day. We just never got it going there and we seemed out of sorts,' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Giants lost more than a game Sunday. All-Star closer Brian Wilson confirmed he's likely headed for season-ending surgery because of structural damage in his right elbow.
Wilson was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list, clearing space for Vogelsong to come off the DL and make his first start of the year. After the journeyman's breakout season at age 34 last summer, Vogelsong returned ready to recapture his touch.
Instead, Pittsburgh quickly reminded him how difficult an encore might be.
Jones pulled a solo home run over the right-field arcade and Presley lined a two-out single in the second to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.
Vogelsong settled into a rhythm following the shaky start, facing the minimum over the next 3 2-3 innings. The defense also backed his effort, highlighted by third baseman Pablo Sandoval's diving, over-the-shoulder catch in the top of his glove on Jones' foul pop in the sixth.
``I had some times out there where I felt pretty good. Things were pretty smooth and I was hitting my spots,' Vogelsong, who struck out seven and walked three. ``And there were times when I was fighting myself.'
San Francisco's hitters struggled to find any kind of rhythm.
Brandon Belt hit a line drive leading off the fifth that tipped off the top of the glove of a leaping Jones at first and trickled into the outfield. Belt barely beat out Jose Tabata's throw for a double, and scored from third on Burriss' groundout to short later in the inning for the Giants' lone run.
San Francisco's bullpen also struggled to keep it close.
Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee singled to open the Pittsburgh eighth against Dan Otero, who was lifted for lefty Jeremy Affeldt. Sandoval sailed the throw to first on Neil Walker's bunt, allowing McCutchen to score from second during a two-run eighth that extended Pittsburgh's lead to 4-1.
The victory also was the first away from home for Pittsburgh this year.
``We just wanted to win a game,' Hurdle said. ``This just happened to come on the road.'
NOTES: The last time the Giants swept the Pirates in a three-game series in San Francisco was July 2009. ... Pittsburgh sends LHP Erik Bedard (0-2, 2.25 ERA) to the mound Monday at Arizona opposite LHP Joe Saunders (0-0). ... Tim Lincecum (0-1, 12.91) looks to rebound after two horrid starts when San Francisco opens a three-game series against Roy Halladay (2-0, 0.60) and the Phillies on Monday in a marquee matchup of two-time Cy Young Award winners.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved