Just days ago, it appeared this was going to be a long and trying season for the San Francisco Giants. That may not be the case anymore.
The Giants look to win their fourth straight game on Friday when they continue their four-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park.
After losing six of its first seven games to start the year, San Francisco (4-6) has won three straight, including a 5-1 victory over the Cardinals in Thursday’s series opener.
Left fielder Fred Lewis doubled, tripled and scored twice, and will now likely see an increase in his playing time. The Giants announced after Thursday’s game that outfielder Dave Roberts will undergo left knee surgery Saturday and could miss significant time.
“I hate that Dave’s out,” Lewis said. “He’s one of my teammates. It means I’m going to get a lot of playing time and hopefully help the team get as many wins as possible.”
The Giants’ pitching staff is in the midst of a remarkable turnaround, having yielded three total runs during the winning streak after allowing an average of 6.0 runs in the season’s first seven games. San Francisco had gone 19 innings without allowing a run before St. Louis’ Troy Glaus hit a ninth-inning RBI double Thursday.
Now that the Giants’ pitching staff is rounding into form, Barry Zito (0-2, 6.30 ERA) attempts to get out of his early season funk when he takes the ball Friday.
Zito gave up five runs - three earned - and eight hits in Sunday’s 7-0 loss to Milwaukee, his second defeat in as many outings. The left-hander also opened 2007 with losses in each of his first two starts. He has not begun a season with three consecutive defeats since 2005, with Oakland.
In his only start against the Cardinals (7-3) last season on July 8, Zito gave up six runs - five earned - eight hits and four walks in four innings of a 7-0 loss at St. Louis. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner is 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA in two career starts versus the Cardinals.
St. Louis had won seven of eight before Thursday’s series-opening loss.
The Cardinals have lost five of six to the Giants since the start of last season.
Albert Pujols, who was 1-for-3 on Thursday, is batting only .256 (20-for-78) in 20 career games at AT&T Park - his lowest batting average at any NL stadium.
Kyle Lohse (1-0, 0.00) looks to continue his impressive start to the season when he takes the mound for St. Louis on Friday.
Lohse signed with the Cardinals on March 18, after going 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA with Cincinnati and Philadelphia last season. The right-hander is now a vital part of the Cardinals’ surprising starting rotation, which has a 2.35 ERA.
After allowing three hits in five scoreless innings of a 2-1 win over Colorado on April 1, Lohse gave up four hits and one walk in seven innings of a 3-0 win over Washington on Sunday.
“If he pitches like that all year, he could spoil us,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa told the team’s official Web site.
Lohse has not faced the Giants since 2006. He is 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA in three career starts against San Francisco.