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Vogelsong leads Giants into opener with Rockies

The season may have been a disappointing one for the defending World Series champion Giants, but it is one that starter Ryan Vogelsong will eventually look back on with pride.

Vogelsong will make the final start of his All-Star season tonight when San Francisco shoots for a sixth straight win over the Colorado Rockies in the first of three straight games between the clubs.

San Francisco has lost four straight and was eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend one season after winning its first World Series title since 1954.

The Giants do sport an impressive 11-4 mark against the Rockies this year, taking five of six at home, and Vogelsong has been a big part of that success. He is 3-0 in four games (three starts) against Colorado in 2011 with a 1.29 earned run average.

The righty had not pitched in the majors since posting a 6.39 ERA in 20 games with Pittsburgh in 2006, but opened the season in San Francisco's bullpen before getting a shot in the rotation due to injury. Vogelsong never let go of his hold on a starting spot, going 6-1 in the first half with a 2.17 ERA in 16 games, all but two of those starts.

He hit a bit of a bump in the second half, losing five straight starts before beating the Rockies on Sept. 15. The 34-year-old then won his second straight outing on Wednesday over the Dodgers, yielding four runs and nine hits over five frames to improve to 12-7 with a 2.81 ERA on the year.

"I was upset I gave some runs back, but we're swinging the bats well and did a good job of scoring runs," Vogelsong said after the 8-5 win.

San Francisco has dropped five of six since an eight-game winning streak, and was swept in three games over the weekend by Arizona. One day after being bested by 13 runs to end their playoff chances, the Giants dropped a 5-2 decision to the Diamondbacks on Sunday.

Tim Lincecum finished his season under .500 at 13-14 after giving up five runs on eight hits over five innings.

"I have a lot of things I need to do; throw more strikes, less walks," Lincecum said of what he need to improve on for 2012. "I have to make better quality pitches."

Andres Torres and Carlos Beltran both hit solo homers for the Giants.

Colorado comes to town after posting a club-record 25 hits in Sunday's 19-3 win over Houston. The output bested the previous franchise high of 24 hits back on Aug. 3, 2003 versus Pittsburgh and also matched the club record for most runs scored in a game.

Kevin Kouzmanoff led the charge with two homers and five RBI, while Ty Wigginton, Jordan Pacheco and Tommy Field each added four hits for the Rockies, who have won two straight since a nine-game slide.

Impressively, the Rockies set the new club mark despite not having regulars Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup due to injury.

"To set a franchise record for number of hits in a game, I wouldn't of thought, and obviously no disrespect meant that it would've been done with the patched up lineup that we have, but we swung the bats great today," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Kevin Millwood tossed seven strong innings of shutout ball to pick up the win for Colorado. He scattered three hits, while striking out six and walking one.

Jhoulys Chacin tries to avoid a fourth straight defeat this evening even though he pitched well enough to win his last outing. Facing the Padres on Tuesday, the right-hander gave up two runs -- one earned -- on six hits and two walks over six innings, striking out four in a 2-1 defeat.

Chacin is 11-13 with a 3.66 ERA this year and is 3-2 lifetime versus the Giants with a 2.76 ERA. However, the 23-year-old allowed seven runs, all but three earned, over 5 2/3 frames of a loss when he last faced them on Sept. 15.