SAN FRANCISCO -- Individually, Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Vogelsong reclaimed the form that had eluded them most of this year. Collectively, the Giants simply maintained their momentum Wednesday night to survive another thriller.
Stuck in a season-long slump, Sandoval slapped his second single of the game to shatter a seventh-inning tie and propel the Giants to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Entering the game with an 8.00 ERA, Vogelsong yielded Los Angeles' lone run and four hits in six-plus innings, marking the first time this year that he lasted beyond five innings. The right-hander blanked the Dodgers on one hit through five innings while facing the minimum 15 batters.
The Giants clinched their second straight series victory over the Dodgers and have won four of five games against their archrivals. But Vogelsong cautioned against feeling too giddy.
"Obviously, the rivalry's there," he said. "But at the end of the day, we have to win, whether it's them or it's Pittsburgh or anybody else in the National League -- or Interleague.
San Francisco's bullpen, which has recorded a 0.63 ERA in eight games during this homestand, preserved the lead as the Giants endured their sixth consecutive one-run decision. They've won four of these games, including the last three in a row.
"It's good for these guys to know that every play, every pitch counts," said manager Bruce Bochy, whose ballclub observed his 59th birthday by breaking a first-place deadlock with the Dodgers in the National League West standings.
Bochy also made a reference to graying hair that reflected this victory, like many of the Giants' recent triumphs, didn't come easily.
With the score even at 1, Joaquin Arias coaxed a walk from reliever J.P. Howell to open the Giants' seventh inning. Arias advanced to second base on pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza's sacrifice bunt. One out later, Howell intentionally walked Hunter Pence, batting .183, to pitch to Sandoval, who was hitting .172.
Sandoval insisted that he wasn't insulted.
"If I'm the manager, I'd do that," he said.
Batting .154 with runners in scoring position and .160 with men on base, Sandoval flailed at Howell's first-pitch fastball, missing badly.
This led to a silent, internal lecture.
"I told myself a little more to calm down and play pepper through the middle of the field," Sandoval said.
Sandoval followed his own advice, smacking Howell's 1-1 changeup into center field to score Arias.
"I've got to tip my hat to Pablo," Howell said. "He hit a tough pitch."
Vogelsong made several tough pitches, though some of them dated back to his previous start against Arizona last Thursday. That evening, he allowed four runs in the second and third innings before pitching two shutout innings. That bolstered his confidence, which remained intact as he confronted the Dodgers.
"The last couple of innings the other night against Arizona kind of helped me feel what I wanted to feel," Vogelsong said.
Said Bochy, "I think, more than anything, he stayed consistent with his delivery from the first inning."
Vogelsong vanished after hitting Hanley Ramirez on the left hand and yielding Adrian Gonzalez's single to open the seventh inning. Relieving Vogelsong, right-hander Jean Machi defused the Dodgers by striking out Matt Kemp then, after Andre Ethier's infield single loaded the bases, inducing Juan Uribe's comebacker to start a 1-2-3 double play.
"He saved our skin there," Bochy said of Machi, who began the bridge of relievers that spanned the route to Sergio Romo's fourth save in four opportunities.