With Bonds expected to get a day off, Zito looks to rebound from two straight poor starts as the San Francisco Giants try to complete a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros on Wednesday at AT&T Park.
Bonds drew two intentional walks and remained stuck at 745 home runs as the Giants (23-22) beat the Astros 4-2 on Tuesday night. He is scheduled to get a break for Wednesday’s game, which coupled with Thursday’s off day, will give him two days to rest.
The veteran left fielder has gone 34 at-bats and 53 plate appearances without a homer, drawing 19 walks—seven intentional—and is batting .147 (5-for-34) in that span. He remains 10 home runs shy of tying Hank Aaron’s career record since hitting No. 745 on May 8.
“The walks are killing me,” said Bonds, who turns 43 on July 24. “My legs are tired. You’ve got to get pitches to hit.”
Walks have hurt Zito (3-5, 5.13 ERA), too. The left-hander, who has walked 28 in just 54 1-3 innings, matched a career-worst with seven free passes against his former team in a 15-3 loss to Oakland on Friday. He also gave up seven runs and six hits in a season-low four innings.
Zito has lost two straight starts, allowing four home runs and posting an 11.70 ERA in that span. This will be Zito’s first appearance against Houston, but Astros left fielder Carlos Lee is batting .333 (9-for-27) with a home run, a triple and two doubles against him.
San Francisco has won three straight for the first time since an eight-game run from April 18-26, and remains 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The Giants have not swept the Astros in a three-game series at home since Sept. 27-29, 2002.
Houston (21-24), meanwhile, has lost three straight and five of six following a four-game winning streak.
The Astros ended a 19-inning scoreless stretch in the fourth Tuesday when Mark Loretta tripled home Mike Lamb. Houston hadn’t scored since the third inning Sunday against Texas, and has been held to two runs or less in five of its last seven games.
Astros slugger Lance Berkman went 0-for-3 Tuesday, and is batting .162 (7-for-43) with no extra-base hits in his last 12 games.
“When you’re not getting hits, you start trying to do too much,” Astros hitting coach Sean Berry said. “He’ll be fine. He’s too talented for him not to be. He just has to grind his way through it and somehow try to relax.”
Matt Albers (1-3, 6.51 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, making his first appearance against San Francisco.
Albers has lost two straight outings, getting tagged for 12 runs and 15 hits in just six innings over that stretch. The right-hander had given up three earned runs or less in his previous four starts, and has allowed eight home runs in just 27 2-3 innings in his six outings.