Considering there are only five weeks left in the season, the San Francisco Giants would have liked to have seen Barry Zito win back-to-back starts by now, but that has not been the case in this disappointing season.
Zito once again tries to win consecutive outings and help lead the Giants to four straight victories for the first time in 11 weeks when they continue their three-game series against the lowly San Diego Padres on Saturday.
San Francisco (56-72) is likely headed to a fourth straight losing season for the first time since 1974-77, but it has been playing better lately. After owning the majors’ third-worst record in July (8-16), the Giants have the league’s sixth-best record this month (12-9).
They defeated the Padres 5-0 in Friday’s series opener to win their third straight and fifth in six games.
Bengie Molina had two hits and two RBIs Friday, while Travis Ishikawa hit a three-run homer for San Francisco, which has not won four in a row since sweeping a four-game series at Washington June 6-9. The Giants are also one victory away from winning their third straight series—something they have not done since April 18-26, 2007.
Zito (7-15, 5.43 ERA) has won just 18 of 58 starts since signing a $126 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco before the 2007 season, and has not won consecutive starts since his final two outings of last season.
Zito leads the majors in defeats this year, but the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner has come a long way since losing his first seven starts of 2008. He allowed five hits and two walks in seven innings of a 5-0 win over Atlanta on Monday.
“There’s no question that he’s pitching with so much more confidence than he did earlier this year,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Zito’s only other win this month came at San Diego (48-80) on Aug. 2, as he allowed three hits in eight innings of a 2-0 win. He is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in five starts versus the Padres since the start of last season.
While the Giants have been playing better lately, San Diego is still scuffling, as it has lost five in a row and is a NL-worst 6-15 since July 29.
The Padres managed only four hits Friday after getting five in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to Arizona.
Center fielder Jody Gerut has been a part of San Diego’s recent offensive woes, as he’s hitless in eight at-bats in his last two games after going 8-for-12 with a homer, three doubles and four RBIs in his previous four.
The Padres plan to call up Dirk Hayhurst from Triple-A Portland to make his major league debut Saturday.
The right-handed Hayhurst, who was selected in the eighth round of the 2003 draft, was 2-3 with a 3.75 ERA for Portland. He had 98 strikeouts and 28 walks in 84 innings in the minors.
“We’re trying to reward a guy who came through our system and has turned himself into a suspect at least,” Padres general manager Kevin Towers told the team’s official Web site. “For a while, Dirk was a guy who we thought only had organizational value, but he’s continued to impress.”