SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong reminded observers what the bottom line is in competitive athletics.
Following the Giants' 2-0 loss Wednesday night to the St. Louis Cardinals, Vogelsong could have been expected to engage in the usual postgame pas de deux with reporters, who would ask him charitable questions about his earnest yet luckless performance. Vogelsong would play his part by saying all the right things, delivering an honest self-evaluation while insisting that he can do better.
However, when asked to assess the stuff he displayed against the Cardinals, Vogelsong cut the routine short.
"It doesn't matter anymore. It's a loss," he said. "I'm tired of talking about stuff. It's all about wins and losses now, getting to the playoffs. It doesn't matter what the stuff is."
Vogelsong began to apologize for his abruptness. Then he held his ground. "It's just kind of how I feel right now. Just trying to be honest," he said.
Such candor was appropriate. The Giants squandered an opportunity to gain a game on second-place Los Angeles in the National League West standings and maintained their half-game lead. Vogelsong's pitching kept the Giants competitive, but they absorbed their third shutout defeat in a 2-7 homestand, primarily because St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright limited them to four hits in 7 2/3 innings while becoming the NL's first 11-game winner.
Wainwright compensated for the aberration of May 30, when he yielded seven runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 9-4 loss to the Giants at St. Louis. Though he silenced the Giants' hitters, he didn't mute his praise for them.
"I thought they battled me very tough all night long," Wainwright said. "They didn't swing at anything out of the zone all night. They took a lot of really close pitches and fouled off some tough pitches. They did a great job of getting my [pitch] count up early."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy praised the Giants' industriousness. He would have appreciated more results in the form of base hits, however.
"It's nice the guys were grinding out some at-bats, but it's all about putting some men on base, creating those chances and somebody's got to come through," Bochy said.
Help is on the way, given first baseman Brandon Belt's expected return from the disabled list on Friday. Belt, who hit nine homers before being sidelined May 9 with a broken left thumb, will reinforce the middle the batting order.
Bochy remains concerned with the top of the order. With center fielder and leadoff hitter Angel Pagan still enduring back pain, Bochy indicated that he might bat Hunter Pence first and install Belt in the No. 2 spot when he returns. Gregor Blanco, who has replaced Pagan at leadoff but is batting .140 (6-for-43) in his last 12 games, likely will be reassigned to a lower position in the order.
"Gregor's just a little passive," Bochy said. "He took some pretty good pitches."
Vogelsong (5-5) expressed dogged confidence in his teammates' ability to generate offense. "You either get through it and get stronger or you don't get through it and finish in last," he said. "We'll get through it."
If they don't, Vogelsong's on a collision course with more frustration. He allowed both of St. Louis' runs and six hits while walking one and striking out eight. In his last two starts, Vogelsong has yielded three runs in 13 innings, walked one and struck out 15. He was charged with losses on both occasions.
At least Vogelsong sustained the recent excellence of the Giants starters, who have combined for a 1.76 ERA in the last seven games.
"We're getting that consistency with the starters and that's what it's going to take for us to get on a roll," Bochy said.