Cardinals get zipped by Zito
SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Zito’s new have-fun, don’t-stress-the-small-stuff approach sure is working. So much so that he resembles his old Cy Young Award self from eight years ago with Oakland.
He’s talking to himself on the mound and showing emotion with a subtle fist pump here and there. His curveball is as nasty as ever and he’s striking out the middle of the opponent’s order – he even had slugger Albert Pujols fuming.
Zito struck out 10 over eight dominant innings, pinch-hitter Andres Torres singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth and the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 on Saturday night.
“I’m just trying to have fun playing baseball and pitch,” Zito said. “Not make it more complicated than it is.”
Zito outpitched Adam Wainwright in an impressive duel, earning his first career victory against the Cardinals after starting 0-4 in his initial five outings.
“That guy was on fire,” Giants closer Brian Wilson said. “The curveball was the curveball I remember watching a few years ago.”
San Francisco took the series opener 4-1 on Friday night to end a four-game skid, then the Giants handed the Cardinals their first series defeat of the year. St. Louis won its opening five sets.
Zito (3-0) allowed three hits and walked three in a 114-pitch performance. Wilson pitched the ninth for his fourth save in four tries and second of the series.
Zito didn’t allow a hit until Felipe Lopez’s leadoff single in the fourth and got Pujols on an inside fastball for a called third strike to end the sixth. Pujols argued with plate umpire Mike Reilly, then manager Tony La Russa also came out to chat.
Hundreds of fans chanted “Barry! Barry!” in the eighth after Zito struck out the first two batters of the inning – a far cry from the boos the $126 million left-hander has often heard during his struggles since joining the Giants before the 2007 season.
He then struck out Lopez to end the inning.
“I didn’t want to give them any space to breathe, any space to get a foot in the door,” Zito said. “Slam the door.”
Zito reached double digits in strikeouts for the 13th time in his career and second with San Francisco. He last did so on July 5, 2008, against the rival Dodgers.
Wainwright (3-1), coming off a complete-game win against the New York Mets on Sunday, hung tough and matched Zito for much of the night before Nate Schierholtz opened the eighth with a double. Torres batted for Zito and lined a single up the middle after missing two bunt tries. Schierholtz was just the second San Francisco hitter to get past first base.
Aubrey Huff added a sacrifice fly later in the inning.
“I was 0-2 on Torres and I should have been able to finish that,” Wainwright said. “The contact they had was not extreme but it found the right holes.”
It was the Giants’ fourth shutout, second at home. St. Louis was blanked for the first time this season.
Pablo Sandoval had a pair of singles on his bobblehead night. Fans began lining up six hours before first pitch to snag a “Panda” souvenir.
Sandoval also scooped up a hard one-hopper by Pujols in the fourth, stepped on third and fired to first for a nice double play. Zito called it a “game-changer.”
“It just happened. I just try to react,” Sandoval said. “It’s the best day in my life. It’s special I got a bobblehead in my second year.”
Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria returned to the lineup after he was scratched Friday night when his troublesome left shoulder began bothering him.
San Francisco’s Juan Uribe was pulled from the game in the top of the third with tightness in his right elbow. Mark DeRosa moved from left field to second and John Bowker took over in left.
NOTES: Wainwright twice plunked DeRosa in the left elbow. … Lopez was back in the starting lineup after striking out as a pinch hitter on Friday, when La Russa gave him another day to rest his sore right elbow. … Jaime Garcia, the losing pitcher Friday, was still relishing his first major league hit – an infield single off two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. Garcia doesn’t yet have the ball, but said a trainer is keeping it safe. “Hey, I’ll keep the ball,” Garcia said. “It’s a good memory. And I’ll write Lincecum on it. My first hit comes against a future Hall of Famer. Fifteen years from now I can pull it out and show it off.” … Sunday starter Brad Penny, who finished the 2009 season with the Giants, Chris Carpenter and about 10 other Cardinals received a private tour of San Quentin State Prison on Saturday morning after Penny arranged it. … Retired Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who landed a US Airways plane safely on the Hudson River in January 2009, was among the sellout crowd of 41,785 – the Giants’ fourth sellout of 2010.
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