Giants start second half with shutout

AT&T PARK — The one benefit to Ryan Vogelsong being on the disabled list has been the emergence of Chad Gaudin in the Giants rotation.

Gaudin (4-1, 2.15 ERA) improved to 4-0 as a starter pitching seven scoreless innings, scattering three hits, striking out eight in the Giants’ 2-0 win on Friday night.

It was Gaudin’s first win at home to go along with a microscopic 0.55 ERA (2 earned runs in 33 innings).

Buster Posey and Hunter Pence provided the offensive support for the Giants, who have now won four of their last five games.

Pence told SFBay exclusively that winning three of four in San Diego just before the All-Star break really gives the team momentum they need:

Giants right fielder Hunter Pence

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“That was necessary to end the first half on a better note and start playing some good ball. To come back after a few days off refreshed and ready to keep going because this is crunch time so it’s time to go.”

The National League West is still up for grabs. Winning the first game of the series against Arizona to kick off this critical ten-game homestand is a good place to start — and the Giants did exactly that.

Gaudin said this was a huge win against a division rival:

Giants pitcher Chad Gaudin

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“To come out after the break and win the first game and start the second season off on a good note is exactly what everybody in this clubhouse wanted to do and everybody put it together, worked and battled and we came out on top.”

With the win, the Giants are now within 5-1/2 games of the Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West.

The Giants scored both their runs in the bottom of the first. Gregor Blanco drew a leadoff walk and scored on Posey’s double, before Pence hit a two-out single to left, bringing home Posey.

Arizona struggled to mount any significant threat until the eighth inning. Manager Bruce Bochy used four pitchers in that inning, beginning with Javier Lopez. Three of those pitching changes were to counter Arizona’s pinch-hitting matchups.

Eventually, the Diamondbacks had the bases loaded with All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt at the plate. Santiago Casilla induced Goldschmidt to ground into a force out, ending the inning.

Bochy says the long four-day break allowed him the benefit to employ an all hands on deck approach to use any of his relievers:

Giants manager Bruce Bochy

Video: CSN Bay Area

“We had some guys that are comfortable pitching in the eighth inning so I threw four guys out there that hadn’t pitched in awhile and I could get the matchups and it was a nice luxury to have tonight in the eighth inning. You can’t do that very often but with a tight ballgame, a two-run game, that allowed me to do what I did tonight.”

Sergio Romo closed it out with a perfect ninth inning to notch his 22nd save.

Notes

Hall of Fame announcer Lon Simmons — who originally called games on the radio for the Giants in three different stints, most notably when the team moved west in 1958 — threw out the ceremonial first pitch on his 90th birthday. … Gaudin has an 11-inning scoreless streak and over his last four starts with a 0.77 ERA (2 earned runs in 23-1/3 innings) … Ian Kennedy took the loss for Arizona, giving up two runs over six innings. Kennedy had not lost to the Giants since Sept. 29, 2010.