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SD@SF: Vogelsong strikes out six over seven innings

With the Giants stifling the Cardinals' offense in Tuesday's 4-2 win, the teams head into Wednesday's game with identical 60-50 records despite their vastly differing offensive numbers.

The Cardinals have scored a National League-best 548 runs entering Wednesday's matchup, while the Giants are 18th in the Majors with 455. The Giants are boosted by their 34-24 record in games decided by two runs or fewer, while the Cardinals are 16-31 in that category.

"That's how we're built, pitching and defense," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're not a power-hitting club. It's two different offenses."

Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound Wednesday for the Giants ranking third in the Majors with a 2.38 ERA, having allowed more than three earned runs in a start just twice this season. His last time out, Vogelsong gave up four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings against Colorado to break his streak of 16 straight quality starts.

While Vogelsong has been the picture of consistency, Joe Kelly will make what may be his last start for the Cardinals rotation despite being a solid back-end starter with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts. With Jaime Garcia making a rehab start Thursday and expected to be activated soon, the rookie could be headed to the bullpen.

In his last start, Kelly held the Brewers to three runs in 5 2/3 innings despite allowing 10 hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings.

"I think it was a great lesson for him to learn how to pitch when you don't have your best stuff," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Kelly overcame the bevy of baserunners to notch his first win since June 22.

"A lot of young guys like that could kind of fold over," Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso said. "But he battled, and he has such good stuff anyways that even if he doesn't have his best stuff, it's better than a lot of guys when they're on. He did a good job of battling with what he had."

Cardinals: Carpenter coming through off the bench
Though he grounded into a ninth-inning double play in Tuesday's game, rookie infielder Matt Carpenter has developed into a productive option off the Cardinals bench. His two-run pinch-hit single in Monday's game against the Giants gave him eight pinch-hit RBIs this season in 19 at-bats.

"It's not an easy thing to do, but as far as being comfortable with it and accepting it and giving it your best effort and being focused ... that's definitely something that I've gotten better at," Carpenter said. "As the season goes on, you get more and more experience and you get put in those situations more often. You're more prepared for that."

Giants: Sandoval nearing return
Pablo Sandoval continues to make progress with his strained left hamstring and could be back with the Giants within the next few days, Bochy said before Tuesday's game.

The All-Star third baseman will run the bases Wednesday and would be eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday.

"You have to be cautious with game speeds and reaction," Bochy said. "If you're not 100 percent, you're probably going to reinjure it."

• The Giants' new acquisition, Jose Mijares, was available to pitch in Tuesday's game, with the Giants placing Shane Loux back on the DL with a recurring neck strain to make room for the left-hander. Mijares warmed up during the sixth inning but did not appear in the game.

Worth noting
• Vogelsong has struggled in his career against the Cardinals, going 1-4 with a 7.65 ERA in 15 games (40 innings). In nine career starts, Vogelsong is 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA against St. Louis.

• The Giants' Buster Posey has hit safely in his last 11 games, including his three-run home run in Tuesday's game. His .448 average and 30 RBIs since the All-Star break are tops in the Majors.

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