SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong was just hoping to earn a spot with a major league club the last five seasons.
Now he's close to making another team: The National League All-Stars.
A little-known righty this spring, the only All-Star team Vogelsong could ever recall making was in Little League and joked that it was "by default." Giants manager Bruce Bochy will head the NL team for the defending World Series champions and pick some of the reserves, so Vogelsong's chances are looking sharp.
"This guy's done everything he could to go there at this point," Bochy said.
Vogelsong (5-1) allowed three hits and one run in seven innings in the latest stellar outing for the journeyman turned ace. He would lead the majors with a 1.86 ERA if he qualified with enough innings pitched, which he could do with his next start.
Vogelsong went almost five years between major league victories, bouncing from the minors to Japan and back. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training and was called up when Barry Zito was injured in April.
All he has done since has been spectacular.
"To be on the All-Star team at the major league level has never been anywhere close to a chance for me," Vogelsong said. "It would be amazing."
San Francisco's struggling offense finally came alive.
Eli Whiteside had a triple, single and three RBIs to hand Nick Blackburn (6-5) his first loss in almost two months. Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson combined to pitch two scoreless innings in relief, a night after Minnesota tied a major league record by starting the game with eight consecutive hits off Madison Bumgarner.
But it was Vogelsong who finally quieted Minnesota's bats.
"He pretty much ate us up through most of the part of the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The guy was pretty nasty."
Vogelsong retired the first 12 batters with ease -- two soft flies to center were the only ones that left the infield. Michael Cuddyer ended the streak with a single leading off the fifth.
There were plenty of distractions to shake Vogelsong's rhythm, too.
A fan sitting along the left-field line took a foul ball in the stands away from Giants outfielder Cody Ross in the sixth inning. As Ross reached into the stands, the man put his glove in front of the outfielder and caught the fly by Casilla.
The umpires didn't call interference, and the Twins were held scoreless in the inning. The man and a female companion were escorted to another section for their safety.
Former Giants slugger and home run king Barry Bonds was sitting behind home plate for most of the game. Bonds received a standing ovation from those around his section when he left at the start of the seventh inning, taking pictures, smiling, and waving to the crowd -- all things he did little of when he was a player.
With all the commotion in his eyesight, Vogelsong allowed two singles to start the inning before he struck out Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes. Tsuyoshi Nishioka hit an RBI infield single that Crawford bobbled at shortstop, allowing Minnesota to trim the lead to 3-1.
"I just keep saying it's just mental," he said. "It's being able to focus and concentrate in situations when I couldn't before."
Romo limped off the mound at the end of the seventh, holding his right knee and grimacing but said he would be available to pitch Thursday. ... Zito will likely make his first start back when San Francisco plays a doubleheader at the Chicago Cubs next Tuesday. Zito, coming off a two-hit shutout for Triple-A Fresno, hasn't pitched in the majors since he sprained his right foot on April 16 fielding a bunt. ... Twins 1B Justin Morneau will have a cast removed from his left wrist on Friday. ... Twins closer Joe Nathan and DH Jim Thome are expected to rejoin the club in Milwaukee on Friday after finishing rehab stints.
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