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SF@NYM: Vogelsong allows two hits in a complete game

NEW YORK -- For Ryan Vogelsong, this was a complete game without the footnote.

Vogelsong pitched his first nine-inning Major League complete game Friday night, yielding two hits while facing just one batter over the minimum in the Giants' 5-1 triumph over the New York Mets.

Brandon Crawford went 3-for-4 and Hunter Pence drove in three runs to help the Giants open a three-city, 10-game road trip successfully. But Vogelsong was the true man of the hour -- almost literally, because he and his Mets counterpart, Jon Niese, performed so efficiently that the game lasted a mere two hours and six minutes.

Vogelsong recorded a complete game on May 14, 2011, but -- here's that footnote -- it was a rain-shortened, six-inning contest at Chicago's Wrigley Field. He wanted a real one.

"It's been weighing on me for a while," said Vogelsong (6-8), who lasted eight innings four times -- most recently against Pittsburgh last Aug. 25, when he thought he might work the ninth but ran out of energy.

That's not surprising, given his career saga from the Minor Leagues through Japan and on to All-Star status with the Giants in that 2011 campaign. Any pitcher with Vogelsong's ceaseless intensity would want a wall-to-wall performance.

Vogelsong maintained his stamina, though he only recently recovered from an annoying cold. He dictated the tempo from the outset while no-hitting New York through five innings, a spell interrupted by Juan Lagares' leadoff single up the middle in the sixth. The right-hander faced the minimum 21 batters through seven innings due to double plays that erased Lagares and Curtis Granderson, who drew a fourth-inning leadoff walk.

Nothing was wrong with Vogelsong's resolve, especially as the ninth inning approached.

"I was pretty tired," he said. "They asked me how I was feeling, and I kind of didn't answer because I didn't want to come out. Buster [Posey] came down and said, 'How are you doing?' I said, 'Bus, I'm tired, but I'm finishing this game.'"

Giants manager Bruce Bochy understood Vogelsong's desire.

"I knew he wanted to finish it in the worst way," Bochy said.

That didn't stop Bochy from ordering Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt to get loose in the bullpen. But they weren't needed as Vogelsong worked a perfect ninth inning.

"He looked more energized," Posey said.

Vogelsong even assisted on the final out as he coaxed a comebacker from Granderson. Joining the postgame handshake line -- he later exclaimed, "Man, I get to shake hands with the guys on the field after a game I pitched in!" -- Vogelsong received the ball from the final out and a friendly whack on the shoulder from reserve first baseman Travis Ishikawa.

Lucas Duda's eighth-inning leadoff homer, a lapse Vogelsong regretted, prevented a shutout.

"I shook Buster off when I shouldn't have," said Vogelsong, whose 1-2 slider was crushed by Duda to left field. "I had a feeling he was sitting on that pitch, but I thought if I threw it where I wanted to, I could either lock him up or get it by him, because my back-door cutter to lefties has been a pretty good pitch for me all season. But he put a good swing on it. So I was kicking myself a little bit for shaking him off."

Vogelsong planted the seeds for this victory earlier Friday as he mentally turned the page of the calendar. He viewed the start of August as a chance to purge himself of the ill luck that followed him during a five-decision losing streak that spanned six starts. The Giants were shut out in five of those games, wasting Vogelsong's 3.48 ERA over that stretch.

"My last month has been pretty tough," Vogelsong said. "Some tough luck and bad pitches and 0-5 going into this one. I told myself today, 'We're starting a new month. It's time to have a good last two months, pitch my butt off and do my part to try to get us into the postseason.' Hopefully, this one will give me some momentum to carry me through the last two months."

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