Vogelsong locks down Padres in shutout

April was a month of all-around lows for the Giants: losing streaks, starting pitching woes and hitting slumps. Those days seem long gone five days into a new month.

In May, the Giants have a five-game win streak and, for the first time since April 10 (3-2), have a record above .500.

Manager Bruce Bochy was smiling during tonight’s postgame press conference, content about the Giants’ recent and semi-consistent success:

“Some things are hard to explain … I know it’s early, but it’s May now … After three to four starts they’re starting to get comfortable.”

San Francisco has notched three shutouts, including Tuesday night’s 6-0 shutout over the Padres, and four starters have a win on their belt.

One of them, Ryan Vogelsong, collected his first victory of the season, pitching seven innings of shutout baseball striking out four on his way.

Vogelsong, like most of his teammates, had a rough April that ended with a three-inning, six-run outing at Dodger Stadium. He entered May with a 9.31 ERA, allowing 20 runs in just 19-1/3 innings.

Photos by Trevor Will/SFBay

Vogey, like the rest of his team, needed the final days of April to sort some things out. He worked with Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner on his mechanics between starts and shaved off that bushy black beard:

“I gave up four home runs in a game (with the beard). It was time for it to go.”

He said earlier about his bad month:

“I just tried to put the whole month of April behind me. Just try to hit the reset button. New month.”

Vogelsong wasn’t stressing over pitch placement tonight:

“I just let the ball do what it wanted to do instead of try to force it. I felt like in LA I was trying to force the ball into places instead of just throwing it and trusting it.”

The bats gave Vogelsong a reason to pitch. Six reasons, really, as the Giants found a way around Padres starter Andrew Cashner, scoring two in the second after Justin Maxwell made do with a Brandon Belt leadoff double to put the Giants on the board. Matt Duffy added on with a soft ground ball to score Crawford, who had walked, to give the Giants the 2-0 lead.

Three more came in the third. Buster Posey knocked a two-out single and Brandon Crawford followed Belt’s walk with a single of his own. Posey crossed the plate easily from second after center fielder Justin Upton‘s throw sailed beyond home.

Joe Panik iced the cake in the sixth with a towering solo shot off Cashner to the Levi’s Landing bricks.

The home run marked Panik’s second of the series — the other was off the Angels’ Jared Weaver Sunday — but just his third career.

Angel Pagan was scratched from the lineup today after Jedd Gyorko landed cleat-first on his left middle finger last night. The lineup shifted enough to put Brandon Crawford in the five-spot.

He thrived there tonight, notching three hits and an RBI. Bochy noticed:

“(Crawford) looks determined to fight his way out of the eight hole.”

The bullpen continued its dominance Tuesday night. With a solid lead, Bochy put George Kontos and Yusmiero Petit in for an inning each. They struck out four and gave up one hit collectively.

May is young, but we’re seeing every cog in the success machine running, and the Giants have found themselves in second place behind the Dodgers in the NL West.

Outside the Yard

The Giants are looking to put forward a ballot initiative that will transform AT&T Park’s surroundings. The organization today proposed transforming what is now a sprawling parking lot and an abandoned Pier 48 into an affordable housing complex and Anchor Steam Brewing facility.

Said Giants CEO Larry Baer:

“The Mission Rock Initiative is the culmination of eight years of extensive neighborhood outreach and community planning to transform this surface parking lot into an asset for the community…We are eager to engage with San Francisco voters to share our community’s vision of open access along the waterfront, new jobs, neighborhood serving retail, new parks and an unprecedented level of affordable housing.”

About 33 percent of the housing will be exclusive to low- and middle-income individuals and families, the Giants said.

Additional perks, the Giants said, would be the creation of more than 10,000 construction jobs. Giants fans with cars should also know that a parking lot would also be in the works.

The goal is to have the initiative ready for this November’s voters.