The sliding Giants try to avoid a third straight loss to the Cubs on Saturday when the teams continue a four-game series at AT&T Park.
San Francisco (82-72) was one out away from pulling within three games of NL wild card-leader Colorado when Jeff Baker’s(notes) two-run homer in the ninth inning lifted Chicago (80-73) to a 3-2 victory Thursday. The Cubs followed that with Carlos Zambrano’s(notes) two-hitter in a 3-0 victory Friday.
“We faced a great pitcher,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Friday. “He was that good. I don’t know who would have hit him tonight. We hit maybe one or two balls hard all night. We just got shut down completely.”
The Giants are five games behind the Rockies with eight games left and are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cubs, who have staved off elimination from NL Central title contention the last two nights. Chicago has won five of six.
Zambrano was the star Friday as he struck out eight, walked one and also made an impact at the plate to outduel reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum(notes). He drove in two runs, including an RBI double off Randy Johnson(notes) that capped the scoring in the ninth inning.
“It was a matchup between two really good pitchers, Lincecum and Zambrano and our guy pitched a little better tonight,” manager Lou Piniella said.
San Francisco will start Barry Zito(notes) (10-12, 3.99 ERA) after he failed to pitch past the fifth inning in three of four outings this month. He allowed four runs over 4 1-3 innings Monday in a 5-4 victory at Arizona.
The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner is 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA in his last four starts after going 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous six. The left-hander is 1-2 with a 3.96 ERA in four career outings against the Cubs.
Zito is eight strikeouts shy of 1,500 for his career.
Lee is expected to be back in the lineup Saturday after he sat out Friday’s win. The first baseman suffered neck spasms while being congratulated after scoring on Baker’s home run in Thursday’s win. Pitcher Angel Guzman(notes) tapped Lee’s helmet.
“All Guzman was trying to do, or whoever, was be congratulatory,” Piniella told the Cubs’ official Web site. “Look, things happen.”
Piniella will give Tom Gorzelanny(notes) (6-2, 5.08) his sixth start for Chicago this year since being acquired July 30 from Pittsburgh. Gorzelanny improved to 3-1 with a 4.56 ERA in the first five after yielding two runs over five innings in a 10-2 win at Milwaukee on Monday.
The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two career starts against the Giants, including his lone career complete game Aug. 12, 2007, as he pitched a five-hitter in a 5-0 win for the Pirates.