Zito, Sandoval help Giants win
August 30, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO – Something about the heat of a wild card race has Barry Zito looking a lot like a Cy Young Award winner.
Zito carried a shutout into the ninth inning, Pablo Sandoval homered and the San Francisco Giants got within a game of the Colorado Rockies for the NL wild card by beating them 5-3 Saturday night.
“Since the All-Star break I don’t know who’s been better,” Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said. “This guy can pitch. He has a history of being an outstanding pitcher and he’s showing that. We’re not going to be able to slug it out with anybody. We need our pitchers and Barry has stepped up.”
Randy Winn, Juan Uribe, Nate Schierholtz and Eli Whiteside also drove in runs for the Giants, who won for the fourth time in five games.
“There’s no better feeling than to back our pitcher,” Schierholtz said. “He’s had a tough couple of years and he’s really bounced back this year. He’s got it all together and in these kind of must-win games he came out and did his job like he has all year.”
Brad Hawpe homered and Seth Smith drove in two runs for the Rockies, who lost their fourth in a row, tying their longest slide of the season.
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Zito (9-11) allowed one run on eight hits over 8 1-3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
“It was imperative that I was aggressive out there,” Zito said. “I didn’t want to give them any leeway. I’ve been focusing more on being aggressive, throwing my best stiff out there and see what happens.”
Zito was even complimentary about the fans who have booed him in the past.
“I’m interpreting things differently,” he said. “It’s fun to have them so involved. They feed us out there and they are part of the reason we play so well at home.”
Jason Marquis (14-9) allowed five runs on nine hits over six innings.
“I just didn’t get the job done,” Marquis said. “The only mistake I feel I made was the pitch to Whiteside, the line drive to center. The Giants have a lot of energy in their home park and they outplayed us in every facet of the game.”
Hawpe’s home run ended the Giants’ streak of 22 innings without allowing an earned run, including the last 14 against the Rockies.
Pinch hitter Seth Smith singled home a pair of runs in the top of the ninth and pinch hitter Todd Helton singled before Brian Wilson came on to get Clint Barmes to fly out for his 32nd save in 38 chances.
“I was encouraged by what we did offensively in the ninth inning,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “Until then, we hadn’t done too much offensively not only this series but you can go back to the second game of the Dodgers’ series.”
Marquis had a single and a sacrifice bunt and was the only Rockies runner to reach third base until Hawpe’s blast.
Sandoval, who homered leading off the second, had three hits before leaving after the sixth. Uribe had two hits.
“Numbers speak for themselves,” Marquis said. “He’s a free swinger and you have to make pitches on him. He gets the barrel to the ball as consistent as anyone in the game.”
Eugenio Velez drew a walk with one out in the third and raced to third on Edgar Renteria’s single to left. Winn followed with his sacrifice fly.
The Giants added three runs in the sixth on Uribe’s double, Schierholtz’s sacrifice fly and Whiteside’s first career triple.
Zito is 4-2 with a 1.77 ERA since the All-Star Break and is a career 74-38 in the second half of the season. He also improved to 105-6 in his career when receiving at least four runs of support.
Notes: 2000 NL MVP Jeff Kent was honored on the Giants’ Wall of Fame before the game. … Zito struck out the side to start the game for the first time since July 29, 2001 as a member of the Oakland A’s against the Kansas City Royals. … Sandoval got the Giants’ 50th ‘splash hit’ since the new park opened in 2000. … Marquis allowed five or more runs in an NL park other than Coors Field for the first time since allowing six in Arizona on April 20. … Rockies’ C Yorvit Torrealba singled in the third to match his career best with a nine-game hitting streak.