SAN FRANCISCO Giants manager Bruce Bochy watched another starting pitcher struggle in the early innings, but he couldnt bring out the vaudeville hook for Ryan Vogelsong Thursday night.Bochy already spent six relievers the previous night in relief of Barry Zito.Sometimes a little faith is required, even in the heat of a pennant race. And Vogelsong is the trustworthy sort.He found his bearings on the mound and contributed with the bat, too, as the Giants erased a four-run deficit and took an 8-4 victory over the Houston Astros to complete a three-game sweep at Minute Maid Park.Hunter Pences broken-bat hit put the Giants ahead and capped a three-run rally that began with two outs in the seventh inning. Brandon Belt contributed four hits and the Giants took care of business against a team on pace to lose 112 games.The sweep didnt come easy for the Giants in the first four months of the season. They improved to 6-10 when given a chance to complete a three-game brooming. Its been a different story in August, though. This was the Giants third road sweep of the season, and all of them have come within the month (at Colorado and Los Angeles).Starting pitching reportVogelsong (12-7) had another challenging start and battled himself while the Astros scored in each of the first three innings. It marked the third time in six starts that he allowed at least four earned runs something he only did once in his first 19 starts.But unlike Zito a night earlier, Bochy gave Vogelsong a bit of rope no doubt because hed already run through his bullpen a night earlier. Bochy even let Vogelsong hit for himself with the Giants trailing 4-0 in the fifth inning, and Vogelsong rewarded the skipper by executing the ol butcher boy play to set up a three-run rally.Vogelsong provided more benefits by keeping the Astros at bay in his final three innings, too although he relied on a lineout double play to escape the fourth and also lucked out when center fielder Angel Pagan threw out Jimmy Paredes trying to stretch a single in the sixth.Bochy had to pinch hit for Vogelsong in the seventh, and this time the hitters bestowed a reward on the right-hander. They rallied to take the lead, putting him in line for the victory.Vogelsongs final line: Six innings, seven hits, four runs (all earned), one walk, seven strikeouts. He threw 67 of 101 pitches for strikes.Bullpen reportGuillermo Mota pitched around a walk in the seventh inning and Javier Lopez nearly took it from there. The left-hander retired the first five hitters but allowed a pair of two-out hits in the ninth. Sergio Romo entered and whisked away the save by striking out Justin Maxwell to end it.Lopez extended his streak to 21 appearances without allowing an earned run. Thats pretty good, save or no save.At the plateThe Giants are scoring runs consistently in the absence of Melky Cabrera, but there are nights when it gets lean in the bottom third of their lineup. Thats what happened when they led off the second inning with three singles to load the bases, only to have Gregor Blanco strike out looking and Brandon Crawford hit into a forceout at the plate. They had some bad luck, too, as Vogelsong scalded a line drive up the middle that pitcher Jordan Lyles snagged in an act of self-preservation.But Blanco singled to start a rally in the fifth and Vogelsong traded misfortune for execution when he showed bunt, pulled back the bat and chopped a ball precisely where shortstop Tyler Greene had vacated his position to cover second base. Blanco took third to set up a three-run rally. Angel Pagan hit an RBI double, Marco Scutaro plated another run with an infield hit and Pagan made a good baserunning play to score on Pablo Sandovals line-drive sacrifice fly to left field.The Giants still trailed 4-3 before breaking through with a two-out, seventh-inning rally that began when Scutaro punched a double off the left field scoreboard. Sandoval tied the game with a single off second baseman Jose Altuves glove. (If Altuve were 5 foot 6 instead of 5 foot 5 12, the inning might have been over right there.)From there, the Astros played the role of the Astros. A wild pitch opened up first base, and after an intentional walk to Buster Posey, a second wild pitch from Fernando Rodriguez moved both runners into scoring position. Then Pence battled the count full before splintering his bat on a flare to center field that scored both runners and put the Giants ahead.Joaquin Arias, who entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning, continued to make a case to start against both left-handers and right-handers. Facing right-hander Rhiner Cruz, he mashed a drive into the Crawford boxes above the left field scoreboard for his fourth major league home run, and his third this month. Hes batting .429 in August.It was a mixed bag for Blanco, who had two singles but really looked out of sorts while striking out three times with runners on base. On a related note, the Giants have a little more than 24 hours to acquire a left fielder who could be eligible to play in the postseason.In fieldPagan airmailed a throw to the plate earlier in the game, but he was on target to second base when Paredes got greedy. That turned into a big out for Vogelsong in the sixth inning.AttendanceThe Astros announced 12,835 paid the third consecutive night that they set an all-time low in the 13-year history of Minute Maid ParkEnron Field. (Did we mention the Houston Texans were playing an exhibition game?) Folks in Fresno expected the Triple-A club to outdraw the Astros in association with their popular Taco Truck Throwdown Night" at Chukchansi Park.Up nextThe Giants had roughly 12 hours to fly 925 miles, catch a few winks and rise early for day baseball at Wrigley Field. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (14-8, 2.93) traveled ahead of the team in anticipation for his start against Cubs right-hander Chris Volstad (1-9, 6.28), who is coming off a celebratory 5-0 win at Colorado. Thats because he ended a 24-start winless streak that dated back more than a year. Volstad finished four winless starts away from matching the major league record.
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