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SF@WSH: Vogelsong's 5 1/3 frames of three-run ball

After losing two out of three to the Padres, the Brewers are staying out west a little longer -- and they don't mind.

They won five out of the six games they played against the Dodgers this season, and after taking two of three from the Giants earlier this month, they'll look to extend that success against the National League West in San Francisco this weekend.

"It always helps when you're able to beat any team and then play them again," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "If a team sweeps you and then you have to play them again, you're thinking, 'OK, what's going to happen this time?' So it always helps.

"We played a good series against them. It's like coming in to play [the Padres]; we know we're always going to have a tough time, so somewhere along you want to beat them some games so you know, 'OK, we're going to have a tough time, but if we play our type of game, we feel like we can win.'"

There could be some low-scoring battles in a series of two playoff contenders, as all six starting pitchers have ERAs at 3.78 or better. The best matchup could be Sunday, when Kyle Lohse matches up with Madison Bumgarner.

"Bumgarner is really good," Roenicke said. "Sometimes I look at the numbers and then I'm watching him pitch thinking, 'How does anybody hit this guy?' When he is on, he is unbelievable."

On Friday, Wily Peralta will be aiming for his Brewers-best 16th victory. He's coming off a rough start against Pittsburgh his last time out, allowing seven runs on seven hits in five innings. But Peralta pitched well against the Giants on Aug. 7, blanking San Francisco through 6 2/3.

On the bump for the Giants will be right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who is 7-9 with a 3.78 ERA on the year.

Vogelsong has pitched well in his home ballpark this season with a 3.22 home ERA, but he hasn't had the support of his offense. He wasn't won at home in seven starts, since May 24.

He's looking to help the Giants narrow a 4 1/2-game gap in the NL West, while Peralta and the Brewers will try to pad their 1 1/2-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central.

Giants: Panik could solidify No. 2 spot
Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Joe Panik's appearance in the batting order's No. 2 spot for Thursday's series finale against Colorado could be part of an ongoing audition, not just a product of mixing and matching.

This marked Panik's 10th start in which he batted second, so it was nothing new. He occupied that spot because Hunter Pence, San Francisco's regular No. 2 hitter, dropped to the fifth spot with Michael Morse receiving a rest. Bochy explained that he didn't want a batting order that was thick with rookies in its bottom half; catcher Andrew Susac and shortstop Matt Duffy hit seventh and eighth, respectively. Hence, the experienced Pence hit fifth for the 11th time this year, and first since April 18.

As Pence's presence in the second spot for most of the season suggests, Bochy is not stuck on the notion of filling that role in traditional fashion. However, he hinted that he'd prefer somebody at No. 2 who can spray the ball to all fields, hit behind runners and execute the hit-and-run. Not only does Panik fit that profile, but Bochy also added that Panik "eventually" could settle into the No. 2 hitter's role.

"I like a two-hole hitter who can do some things," Bochy said, though he emphasized that the type of No. 2 hitter he employs in the future will depend on how that hitter can complement the rest of the lineup.

Brewers: Garza to bypass rehab game
Bypassing a Minor League rehab assignment, Brewers right-hander Matt Garza is scheduled to pitch a simulated game on Friday in San Francisco before rejoining the big league starting rotation sometime next week.

"I won't say an exact date that we're thinking," manager Ron Roenicke said in announcing the plan, "but if [Friday] goes well, we should be able to get him back out there."

Garza, who has not pitched since he strained a left rib-cage muscle in St. Louis on Aug. 3, will throw 45-50 pitches in Friday's session. The plan for his comeback is being influenced by the Brewers' schedule, according to Roenicke. That the team is in the middle of a West Coast road trip complicated the idea of sending Garza to an affiliate, and the fact rosters expand when the calendar flips to September on Monday simplified the task of getting Garza back into game shape.

"It helps us because we're not worried about him having to pitch a game and go five to six innings for us," Roenicke said. "If he goes three to four [innings], we're fine because of what extra arms we'll have up."

Worth noting:
• Vogelsong is 3-3 with a 5.48 ERA in 13 games (eight starts) against the Brewers in his career.

• Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson was named Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year Wednesday. He went 10-2 with a 1.46 ERA for Triple-A Nashville.

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