Zito (5-5, 4.21 ERA), who joined the Giants (26-29) from Oakland after signing a $126 million, seven-year contract in the offseason, has been outstanding in his last two outings, allowing one run and 10 hits in 14 innings with nine strikeouts and three walks.
That success came after a pair of road losses in which the left-hander surrendered 13 runs and 12 hits, including four home runs, in 10 innings.
He has rebounded from those two outings, which included a loss to the Athletics on May 18, and will attempt to win a third consecutive start for the first time since Aug. 19-30.
“My game against Oakland taught me what happens when you try to be too fine,” Zito told the team’s official Web site. “You have to be aggressive in the zone, let them get themselves out. I think the curveball really set up a lot of things.”
Zito did just that in his last outing on Wednesday, utilizing his curveball to scatter six hits and strike out a season-high seven batters over seven innings of a 3-0 road win against the New York Mets. The victory halted his run of three consecutive road losses.
“He controlled the corners,” Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel said. “That’s what made him so successful his whole career. Even when he gets hit, he gets hit in the location where the catcher wants the ball.”
Zito is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts against the Phillies, but he has not faced them since June 17, 2005.
The Giants won the series opener 13-0 on Friday before losing the next two games as Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino hit a ninth-inning, walk-off homer to defeat them 9-8 on Sunday.
“Obviously, it’s a tough loss,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “In this place, there’s no safe lead.”
Barry Bonds did not start Sunday and grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. He has 746 home runs, 10 shy of breaking Hank Aaron’s career record, but just one in his last 21 games.
Bonds is expected to start Monday.
Philadelphia (28-28) hopes Jon Lieber (2-3, 3.86) can rebound from an uneven outing on Tuesday.
The right-hander allowed a season-high five runs - all in the second inning - and 13 hits in 6 2-3 innings of an 11-5 loss to Arizona. Lieber settled down after the big second inning and retired 14 of the next 17 Diamondbacks before exiting the contest and getting charged with the loss.
Lieber has posted a 3.00 ERA in winning each of his last five home starts against San Francisco—two with Philadelphia. He dropped his last outing against the Giants on the road, yielding four runs and seven hits, including a solo home run by Bonds, in six innings of a 9-4 defeat on May 5.
Lieber has had some success against Bonds, holding him to eight hits in 40 at-bats (.200) with five homers.