San Francisco's No. 5 starter Ryan Vogelsong has a tough act to follow. That is, he has a couple of tough acts to follow.
The Giants' rotation has yet to allow an earned run, and Vogelsong will try to keep that impressive streak intact when he takes the ball Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"Unbelievable," manager Bruce Bochy said after Zito limited St. Louis to three hits over seven innings in a 1-0 win in Friday's home opener. "We know that's amazing and we can't expect that."
The last team to open a season with such a streak was the 1976 Milwaukee Brewers , which saw its starters go 31 2-3 innings before giving up an earned run.
Friday's victory marked the Giants' fourth straight over the Cardinals - a streak that started with San Francisco facing elimination down 3-1 in last season's NL championship series. The Giants rallied for an improbable NL pennant, then swept Detroit to win the World Series - a title celebrated throughout the home opener.
Vogelsong was clutch in the NLCS, giving up a run and four hits in seven innings in each of his two starts, winning Games 2 and 6. The right-hander also shut out the Cardinals over seven innings in his lone regular-season start against them in 2012.
Although he's rounding out San Francisco's rotation, Vogelsong is hardly a back-end starter. An All-Star in 2011, he pitched for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic after going 14-9 with a 3.37 ERA last season.
While San Francisco's pitching already seems to be in mid-season form, the offense is off to a slow start.
The Giants (3-1) have scored nine runs with three extra-base hits, and they left 11 runners on base Friday. The lone run scored when Jake Westbrook walked Angel Pagan with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.
The Cardinals (1-3) were just as stagnant Friday, mustering three hits after combining for 15 runs and 26 hits in their previous two games. They've totaled two runs in losing their last four games in San Francisco, which includes the playoffs.
"Same guy we saw last year," manager Mike Matheny said of Zito, who also shut down the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Matt Holliday , 0 for 3 in the series opener, has routinely struggled at AT&T Park, batting .200 in seven regular-season games there since 2010 - his lowest at any ballpark. He is 2 for 8 lifetime against Vogelsong.
Miller, who made his major league debut as a September call-up last season and went 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA, earned the fifth spot in the rotation after going 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA in five Grapefruit League games - two starts.
The righty had five relief appearances in 2012 before making his first start in the regular-season finale, yielding a hit over six shutout innings against Cincinnati. He made St. Louis' postseason roster and pitched out of the bullpen in Games 2 and 6 of the NLCS, allowing two runs and four hits over 3 1-3 innings.
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|March 26, 2013||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Strained back|
|March 24, 2013||Rafael Furcal||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 23, 2013||David Freese||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|March 22, 2013||Jason Motte||15-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 07, 2013||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|February 22, 2013||Chris Carpenter||60-Day DL||Nerve irritation, right shoulder|
|San Francisco Giants|
|March 22, 2013||Brett Pill||15-Day DL||Recovery from minor knee surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Eric Surkamp||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Tony Abreu||15-Day DL||Left knee strain|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Carlos Beltran is a realist. The St. Louis Cardinals' season has just begun, so there's not a lot that can be told from one lousy game - like Friday - or one in which the offense clicks up and down the order as it did a day later.
Yet he is pretty sure the latter provides a better glimpse of what this team can be.
Beltran hit a go-ahead two-run single in the fifth against his former team and Shelby Miller beat the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants in his second career start, spoiling Buster Posey 's MVP party at AT&T Park with a 6-3 win on Saturday.
"I feel good, man," Beltran said. "This is a good team, a good lineup. We have guys from top to bottom who can do the job. It's fun. As a player, you just want to go out there and be part of it."
Pete Kozma had three hits, drove in a run and scored for St. Louis from the No. 8 spot in the order, Matt Holliday singled in a run and Matt Carpenter added an RBI single in the ninth.
Beltran also hit an RBI single in the first against Ryan Vogelsong (0-1) in a matchup of the teams that won the past three World Series - and a rematch of last fall's NL championship series won in seven games by the Giants.
Hunter Pence hit a solo homer in the second and Pablo Sandoval homered and hit an RBI single. He also played more strong defense for San Francisco on a day Vogelsong (0-1) struggled to consistently command the strike zone.
Posey received his NL MVP plaque in another highlight-filled pregame ceremony, and the Giants will have yet another day of celebrating before Sunday's game with the World Series ring presentation.
Posey also was honored for his batting title and Silver Slugger award. Kevin Mitchell , the 1989 NL MVP, and 2000 MVP Jeff Kent took part, along with former MVP winners and Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Willie McCovey .
"It was definitely a different pregame for me than normal but it was nice to be able to celebrate that with the fans," Posey said.
St. Louis' pitchers faced baserunners every inning but limited the damage.
Miller (1-0) walked Pence with one out in the sixth, then Randy Choate relieved and walked Brandon Belt on four pitches before pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias lined the first pitch he saw into a double play to first baseman Allen Craig .
Miller, the Cardinals' top pitching prospect, allowed four hits and two runs in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked four in the first road start of his career.
He went 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA in three spring training starts and five overall appearances, and faced San Francisco twice in relief during last fall's NLCS.
Miller credited catcher Yadier Molina for his guidance to stick with his off-speed pitches even when he left them up in the zone and the Giants made contact.
"That's just the lessons I'll have to work on, trusting my curveball," he said.
Mitchell Boggs , filling in for injured closer Jason Motte , finished for his first save after blowing his initial chance.
The Cardinals earned their second win of the year, giving their pitchers plenty of offense a day after getting three-hit by Barry Zito and two relievers in a 1-0 loss.
After Jon Jay 's foul popup to start the game, Carpenter reached on an infield single and advanced on a passed ball during Holliday's strikeout. Carpenter reached third on a wild pitch as Craig batted. Craig, who had two of his team's three hits Friday, walked and Beltran singled home Carpenter.
The earned run ended a stretch of 26 straight innings without allowing one to begin the year for San Francisco's starters. Vogelsong needed 28 pitches to get through the inning.
After that, Vogelsong allowed Kozma's one-out single in the second before retiring the next eight St. Louis batters in order.
World Series MVP Sandoval homered leading off the eighth for his second of the year. Posey followed with a double for his lone hit of the game on a day the first 40,000 fans received his bobblehead doll - just about everybody in the sellout crowd of 41,402.
Sandoval said he is still finding his timing after missing 13 games late in spring training with an inflamed nerve in his right elbow.
"You want me to tell you the truth?" he said. "A little bit lost."
NOTES: Cardinals 3B David Freese , on the disabled list with a strained lower back, went 1 for 4 with a double and two RBIs on Friday in a minor league rehab game with Triple-A Memphis against Oklahoma City. The hope has been that he would return in time for the home opener Monday against Cincinnati. "We'll see how things go," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's going to do some extra running today and really put a good pounding on his back." ... Belt lost 11 pounds to get down to 218 with his stomach bug earlier in the week. He last threw up Wednesday, but the 1B was still working to get back his strength. He has been eating protein bars between innings. "That's the battle, getting the weight back," Belt said. ... San Francisco's win Friday came on Angel Pagan 's bases-loaded walk, the first time the Giants won a 1-0 game via an RBI free pass since Dick Groat drew one in the top of the 21st inning on Sept. 1, 1967, at Cincinnati, the Giants said, according to Elias. ... Giants' Double-A Richmond pitchers Jack Snodgrass and Daryl Maday combined on the first no-hitter in team history Friday night in the second game of a doubleheader vs. New Britain.