On Thursday night, the left-hander hopes to bounce back from a disappointing 2009 debut, while trying to help the visiting Giants avoid a sixth straight loss, and a sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who seek a fifth consecutive victory.
Determined to bounce back from his second straight losing season with San Francisco, Zito put himself through a grueling offseason training program to prepare for the year. However, after starting 0-8 a year ago, Zito (0-1, 9.00 ERA) allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings of a 7-3 loss at San Diego on Friday.
“It’s frustrating because I felt great and I’ve come a long way from last year,” said Zito, 21-31 since signing a $126 million contract with the Giants in December 2006. “But I’m optimistic that I’ll be back out there being in control of myself.”
The Giants (2-6) hope that’s the case as they try to avoid concluding their six-game road trip without a win.
Zito is 5-4 with a 4.27 ERA in 10 starts against Los Angeles and 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA at Dodger Stadium.
San Francisco had a chance to end its skid Wednesday, but couldn’t hold a late two-run lead and fell 5-4 to the Dodgers. James Loney drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for Los Angeles (6-3), which last swept the Giants at home Aug. 11-13, 2006.
“It’s a tough one to swallow, especially when you come back late like that,” Giants infielder Rich Aurilia said.
After hitting for the cycle in Monday’s 11-1 series opening win, Orlando Hudson went 3-for-5 for the Dodgers. Hudson is 7-for-10 with four runs scored in the series and batting .368 in his first season with Los Angeles.
Hudson, though, is 7-for-30 with six strikeouts against Zito.
Matt Kemp had two hits to raise his average to .375 while hitting safely in all nine games. The Dodgers center fielder has fared extremely well versus Zito, batting .520 (13-for-25) against him.
A day after being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque, Stults allowed one run and four hits while striking out five in 5 1-3 innings of an 11-2 win at Arizona.
“I guess I feel I don’t have anything to prove, and I just go out and I’m ready mentally and physically,” Stults told the Dodgers’ official Web site.
The left-hander, who lost a spring training competition with McDonald for the fifth starter spot, is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in three starts against San Francisco.
San Francisco’s Fred Lewis is 5-for-6 against Stults, but had his seven-game hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Wednesday.
Giants hitters were held to four hits and struck out 16 times, two nights after recording six hits and fanning 11 times against the Dodgers.
Aaron Rowand hit a three-run homer Wednesday for San Francisco, which has been outscored 35-12 during its skid.