Giants’ Zito finally beats former team in fifth try
SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Zito had his closer to thank for preserving a long-awaited victory against the Oakland Athletics.
“That was all about Brian Wilson,” Zito said. “He stole the show.”
Zito finally got the best of his former team and only club he’d never beaten, ending a four-start winless stretch in the San Francisco Giants’ 5-4 victory over the A’s on Saturday night.
Pablo Sandoval homered, Juan Uribe hit a pair of run-scoring singles and Aubrey Huff added an RBI triple for the Giants. They made it two in a row in the Bay Bridge Series after being swept across the bay in Oakland last month.
While Zito gave up solo home runs to Adam Rosales and Matt Carson, he outpitched Ben Sheets (2-6). Wilson earned a five-out save, pitching out of two jams.
“That’s what I signed up for,” Wilson said. “You get a chance to be a hero or a failure. I always like to choose the hero option because it’s more lucrative. Fans like it.”
Zito (7-2) was the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with the A’s and left for a $126 million, seven-year deal with the Giants before the 2007 season. It took him five tries to beat Oakland after going 0-4 with an 8.85 ERA over his first four outings.
Zito lost to the A’s 6-1 on May 21 at the Coliseum – tagged for season highs of nine hits and six runs – and had three straight no-decisions since then.
“It’s definitely a monkey off my back,” said Zito, who credited the A’s for tough at-bats against him each matchup. “It was different the first year over here. Since then they’ve been getting me on off days.”
This time, he allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked two. He won on an unseasonably warm Bay Area night featuring a first-pitch temperature of 73 degrees, highest all season at AT&T Park.
The Giants nearly lost their lead in the eighth after the A’s loaded the bases against former Oakland reliever Santiago Casilla. Jeremy Affeldt relieved and walked pinch-hitter Gabe Gross to force in a run that made it 5-4.
Wilson entered and got the final two outs of the eighth, then finished for his 17th save in 19 chances after allowing two singles.
Perhaps this win will help get Zito on a roll like the left-hander was on when he began the season 5-0. Zito, who beat out an infield single in the fourth for his fifth hit of the year, improved to 11-17 in interleague play.
Wilson was happy to get Zito back in the win column – against the A’s, no less.
“We were aware of that,” Wilson said of Zito not beating Oakland. “I was thinking of getting a little beer shower going, but he’s got 10 years in.”
Oakland’s Kevin Kouzmanoff singled in the first to extend his career-high hitting streak to 13 games and added an RBI double in the eighth.
Sheets, on a $10 million, one-year contract, lost his third straight start and is winless over seven outings since beating Tampa Bay on May 8. He was done after six innings for the third straight time.
“Six innings isn’t that great,” Sheets said. “That’s where I am right now. I’m starting to feel better toward the end of games so I’ll just keep pushing forward. It’s a long season.”
Sandoval led off the sixth with his fifth home run of the year and first in 58 at-bats since his last on May 28.
Andres Torres hit a go-ahead RBI single in the second, an unearned run after Sheets’ throwing error allowed Sandoval to advance after he drew a leadoff walk.
A’s manager Bob Geren rejoined the team after missing Friday night’s 6-2 loss to attend the high school graduation of his son, Bobby.
“To come up short was a little disheartening but it was a great comeback,” Geren said.
Also, center fielder and leadoff man Rajai Davis returned to Oakland’s lineup after missing four games since his left hamstring tightened up on a triple Monday night against the Angels.
NOTES: Kouzmanoff is batting .451 with 10 RBIs during the hitting streak. … With an off-day Monday, Geren is leaning toward giving both Sheets and Dallas Braden – winless in six starts since his perfect game May 9 – an extra day or two between starts. … Giants SS Edgar Renteria, on his second DL stint of the year this time with a strained right groin, ran the bases for the second straight day and is getting close to returning. … More than 20,000 people watched the 1-1 England-U.S. soccer match earlier Saturday at the ballpark.