Zito tries to avoid losing a fourth straight start for the first time in his career and lead the Giants to their fourth straight win on Tuesday night in the middle game of a three-game series with the San Diego Padres.
After Dave Roberts’ RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning tied the score at 3, Pedro Feliz drove in Barry Bonds in the 11th, giving San Francisco a 4-3 victory over the Padres (42-33) in Monday’s series opener.
The last-place Giants (33-42) have won three consecutive games, after losing a season-high eight straight and 11 of 13. They have not won four in a row since May 20-23.
San Francisco is still 10 games behind first-place Arizona in the NL West, while San Diego, which has lost five of six, is one game back of the Diamondbacks.
“I don’t see the Giants staying 10 games or more out,” Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. “They’ll close the gap on the rest of us.”
For San Francisco to make a move in the standings, it needs Zito (6-8, 4.83 ERA) to break out of his funk.
The Giants’ opening day starter has been tagged for 17 runs - 15 earned - in 13 1-3 innings during his losing skid after allowing just two runs - one earned - in 20 innings in winning his previous three starts. The 2002 AL Cy Young award winner has lost three straight starts on three other occasions in his eight-year career, but has never lost four in a row.
On Wednesday, the left-hander gave up six runs and five hits in just four innings of a 7-5 loss at Milwaukee.
“You can’t try harder or feel like you have to be double yourself, or twice as good,” he told the team’s official Web site. “Any of these things will lead you to get tight and try to be perfect in everything that you do.”
Zito, who signed a $126 million, seven-year contract in January, made his Giants debut against the Padres on April 3, giving up three runs and four hits in five innings of a 7-0 loss. He is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in three career starts against San Diego.
Bonds went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and an intentional walk on Monday, remaining at 749 home runs - six from tying Hank Aaron’s career record.
The 42-year-old slugger is batting .350 (7-for-20) with three homers in his career against Tuesday’s starter David Wells (3-5, 4.71), who is trying to avoid losing three straight starts.
Wells gave up three runs and matched a season high with 10 hits - set in his previous start - in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-3 loss to Baltimore on Thursday to drop his second straight start. The 44-year-old southpaw has not lost three straight starts in a single season since Aug. 22-Sept. 1, 2003.
Wells has had little success on the road this season, going just 2-4 with a 7.08 ERA in seven starts.
The burly left-hander hasn’t faced the Giants since last Sept. 9, giving up four runs and seven hits in five innings of a 5-4, 11-inning defeat at AT&T Park. He is 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA in seven career starts against San Francisco.
Mike Cameron hit a three-run homer - his ninth of the season - to give San Diego the lead in the top of the eighth on Monday. Cameron is batting .438 (14-for-32) with three home runs and nine RBIs in his last eight games, but is just 7-for-32 (.219) with eight strikeouts in his career against Zito.