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Vogelsong struggles again as Giants lose to Braves

(AP) Vogelsong struggles again as Giants lose to Braves
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO
Ryan Vogelsong insists he is perfectly fine physically, and his early-season struggles simply come down to not making pitches in key situations.

There sure have been a lot of them so far in 2013.

Vogelsong failed to get through the fifth inning for the second straight start and saw his winless stretch reach five outings in the San Francisco Giants' 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

"I came through it after 13 years, I came through it after August 2011, I came through after August and September 2012, and I'll come through it again this year," Vogelsong said. "I feel really close. That's dangerous to say, but I feel closer to being where I need to be than further away."

Vogelsong struck out a season-high seven but gave up six runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. The 35-year-old pitcher has allowed 18 earned runs over his past 14 innings, raising his ERA from 5.68 to 7.78. San Francisco's starters have only one win in their last 16 games.

A change could be coming.

When asked if Vogelsong would take his next turn in five days, manager Bruce Bochy was noncommittal.

"These are things we'll talk about internally," Bochy said. "Right now I'm not ready to discuss that. He's healthy. We have different options, I'll leave it at that."

Vogelsong hasn't won since his lone victory April 11 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The right-hander struck out the side in order in the first on 14 pitches, but didn't have another clean inning.

The Giants (20-15) fell into a first-place tie in the NL West with Arizona as the defending World Series champions opened a four-game series between division leaders.

Brian McCann hit a two-run homer and an RBI single for Atlanta in his third game this season since coming off the disabled list.

Buster Posey hit a two-run shot and an RBI single, but the Giants were done in by the fifth inning when the Braves batted around.

Posey put the Giants ahead with a drive into the stands in left-center on a 3-2 pitch from Julio Teheran in the third. The reigning NL MVP and batting champion had a run-scoring single in the first.

But the Braves jumped on Vogelsong (1-3) in the fifth.

Jordan Schafer led off with a triple and scored the tying run on Andrelton Simmons' RBI groundout moments later. Justin Upton followed with a triple of his own, and Freddie Freeman's single gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead.

Vogelsong walked Dan Uggla and his night was done with one out in the fifth. Jose Mijares relieved and the Braves added a run on McCann's RBI infield single.

"I thought he was throwing well," Bochy said. "It was evident by the strikeouts he was getting. I do think the pitches caught up to him a little bit. He worked pretty hard. Up until that inning he was throwing pretty good, he was hitting his spots."

Freeman and B.J. Upton both drove in a run against Vogelsong to help back Teheran (2-0), who pitched seven efficient innings in his 10th career start after his last scheduled outing was rained out Saturday against the Mets. Craig Kimbrel earned his 100th career save, becoming the second-youngest pitcher to reach the milestone.

Teheran received all the run support he needed. Eric O'Flaherty pitched a scoreless eighth before Kimbrel bounced back from a blown save Tuesday at Cincinnati for his 11th save in 14 chances.

The Braves said at 24 years, 346 days, he became the second-youngest pitcher behind Francisco Rodriguez (24 years, 246 days) to reach 100 saves, according to information from the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's nice to get this milestone," Kimbrel said. "Hopefully I can rack up quite a few more."

McCann, a six-time All-Star catcher who returned from the disabled list Monday at Cincinnati for his first action since surgery on his throwing shoulder last October, finished with three hits after taking Wednesday off.

Giants center fielder and leadoff man Angel Pagan returned after missing three of the previous four games with a strained groin that was initially thought to be a hamstring injury. He sat out Sunday and Monday, played Tuesday, then was held out of the lineup Wednesday as a precaution.

Vogelsong will stick to his routine.

"I'm working on stuff obviously, here and there, not anything drastic," he said. "There's always stuff to clean up. Just need to fight through it. It's a tough game sometimes and it'll beat you down. I've been here before and came out the other side and I'll come out."

NOTES: Giants reliever Santiago Casilla, who came out in the eighth inning Wednesday against the Phillies, has a cyst in his knee that he also dealt with last season. ... Vogelsong is tied with Friday night starter Matt Cain for the team lead with nine homers allowed. ... The clubs met for the first of seven games in 2013.

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