Two of the major league’s most successful pitchers over the past month look to continue their unbeaten runs when the Oakland Athletics visit the San Diego Padres on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Petco Park.
Zito (8-3, 3.36 ERA) had won five starts in a row heading into Wednesday’s game at Colorado, and he allowed only one earned run over seven innings in the A’s 3-2 victory in 11 innings.
“Barry had shutout stuff,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said.
The left-hander hasn’t lost since May 12, going 6-0 with a 3.04 ERA in eight starts. Zito has struck out 48 and walked 26 in 56 1-3 innings over that span.
Zito has been a big reason why Oakland has moved into first place in the AL West. Oakland has won 13 of its last 16 to take a 1 1/2 -game lead over Texas in the division.
The A’s took two of three from San Francisco over the weekend, including a 10-4 victory on Sunday after they blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of an 8-7 loss on Saturday.
“It was big,” said shortstop Bobby Crosby, who had two RBIs and scored twice Sunday. “(Saturday’s) game was tough. It shows the character of this team to bounce back.”
Young (6-3, 3.16 ERA), acquired from the Rangers before the season, is 3-0 with a 1.10 ERA in five starts since losing 10-6 to Atlanta on May 24. The right-hander has allowed just 15 hits and 11 walks while striking out 36 over his last 32 2-3 innings.
He threw a season-high 127 pitches while lasting 5 2-3 innings at Texas last Wednesday, allowing one earned run in San Diego’s 3-2 victory.
“I had nine full counts but I walked two batters, so that was good,” said Young, who hasn’t received a decision in his last two starts despite giving up a combined three earned runs. “The pitch count was the result of the foul balls they hit.”
San Diego has lost three of its last four games, including the final two in its series with Seattle over the weekend. Mike Cameron homered for the third straight game in Sunday’s 9-4 loss.
Cameron, though, is just 6-for-27 (.222) with six strikeouts against Zito. Padres reserve outfielder Eric Young is batting .417 (5-for-12) with a homer, four RBIs and four walks against Zito.
The A’s are 11-5 against the Padres, but the teams haven’t met since 2001.