SAN FRANCISCO -- Reduced to seeking some form of daily consolation, the Giants could take solace in Ryan Vogelsong's comeback effort Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles.
The game itself brought the Giants brief, but ultimately false hope, as they tied the score in the ninth inning and nearly won it before Chris Davis' two-run double highlighted a three-run, 10th-inning rally that gave the Orioles a 5-2 Interleague victory.
Making his first appearance since May 20, when a pitch from Washington's Craig Stammen fractured his right hand, Vogelsong allowed two runs in six innings and increased his endurance by throwing 103 pitches.
The ever-intense starter yielded runs in each of the first two innings before blanking Baltimore through the rest of his outing. He yielded six hits and walked three, but responded by holding the Orioles to 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Vogelsong rated his outing as "OK" -- which was more than adequate, since Baltimore led the Major Leagues in home runs and slugging and ranked third in the American League in scoring and batting average. "That team can hit a little bit, that's for sure," Vogelsong said.
Vogelsong sounded unconcerned with his fastball velocity, which registered a couple of miles per hour slower than usual. "Maybe I'm still trying to build some arm strength back up," he said.
Vogelsong actually felt more comfortable as he grew more fatigued. "I felt like I was pretty good one pitch and then a little quick the next pitch," he said. "Once I got a little tired it was easier to keep the same tempo going."
The game's tempo accelerated after Brandon Belt broke Baltimore starter Chris Tillman's spell with a two-out homer in the sixth inning that halved Baltimore's lead. Belt's 13th home run and second in two days was the only lapse by Tillman, who struck out a career-high nine and allowed four hits in eight innings.
Tillman appeared bound for his 11th victory in 12 starts, but the Giants overcame a 2-1 deficit in the ninth to force extra innings. Facing Orioles closer Jim Johnson, the Major Leagues' saves leader with 39, Belt drilled a leadoff single, advanced to second base as Buster Posey walked and scored on Hunter Pence's single up the middle. The AT&T Park crowd erupted with the loudest cheering heard in weeks during this disappointing season.
Johnson toughened by retiring Pablo Sandoval on a fielder's-choice grounder, fanning Roger Kieschnick and coaxing a line-drive out from Gregor Blanco.
"I don't think I made that many bad pitches tonight," Johnson said. "I think I went out there with some pretty good stuff. I missed a couple pitches down in the zone, a couple balls got through. But you got to take your chances and trust what you are doing. I felt like I could have gotten out of it with runners on first and second no one out. You always got to feel like you can get out of it."
With one out in the 10th, Manny Machado doubled to begin Baltimore's surge against Giants left-hander Javier Lopez. The hit was a one-hop smash that shortstop Brandon Crawford deflected into short left field. Lopez induced Nick Markakis' comebacker before intentionally walking Adam Jones. Up came Davis, who hoisted a 1-2 pitch into the right-center field gap to score Machado and Jones. Matt Wieters singled home Davis.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy had right-handers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo throwing in the bullpen and could have opted for one of them, most likely Romo, against the right-handed-hitting Jones. But Bochy liked the lefty-versus-lefty matchup pitting Lopez, who had allowed one earned run in his previous 37 appearances, against Davis, who began Friday leading the Majors in homers and RBIs.
"[Lopez] got a fly ball," Bochy said. "[Davis] just hit it where we couldn't get to it."
Lopez initially thought Davis' drive would be caught. "I thought when it was up there, with the speed that we have in center with Blanco, that we had a shot," he said.
Lopez nevertheless took full responsibility for the outcome.
"You never want to put more guys on base, but my job is to get those lefties out and I've been pretty good at it for the last few years," he said. "I had full confidence that I'm able to do that and Bochy thought the same way. Ultimately, it came down to one pitch, not finishing it, and Chris Davis did what he's been doing all year, put a good swing on it."
In Bochy's view, the Giants sealed their fate when they failed to win it in the ninth.
"We just couldn't finish the deal," he said. "Against a good club like that, if you don't finish it, you could be asking for trouble, and that's what happened."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.