The San Francisco Giants have been plagued by slow starts in recent years. That hasn’t been the case in 2010, and they appear to have the right opponent coming in to help keep the winning ways going.
San Francisco looks for its sixth straight home victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night in the start of a three-game series.
A quick start has vaulted the Giants (5-1) to the top of the NL West, and has tied them with Philadelphia, Detroit and Toronto for the best record in the major leagues. Each of the last three seasons, San Francisco didn’t get its sixth win until the 14th game.
The Giants rebounded from their only loss this year by rallying for a 6-3 victory over Atlanta on Sunday in a game that finally got under way after a rain delay of more than four hours.
Pablo Sandoval’s(notes) two-run homer began a three-run eighth inning, and reigning two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum(notes) overcame an early home run by striking out 10 en route to his second win.
“He’s the best pitcher in the game,” said Atlanta’s Brian McCann(notes), who went deep off Lincecum. “It was almost like he changed to another gear after the home run. His changeup is close to unhittable.”
Zito had one his best starts in a San Francisco uniform Tuesday. The left-hander allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five over six innings in a 3-0 victory at Houston.
“You want to start out on the right foot and let the team know that I’m going to carry my end of the load here as one of the five guys,” said Zito, who won the award in 2002 with Oakland, but has gone 31-43 with a 4.56 ERA with San Francisco from 2007-09.
Since joining the Giants, Zito is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in two home starts against Pittsburgh. He gave up one run over 5 2/3 innings of a 3-2 win July 28.
Though the Pirates have struggled at AT&T Park in recent years, they probably are glad to be heading there. Pittsburgh (3-3) allowed a team record-tying 13 runs in the fourth inning of a 15-6 rout at Arizona on Sunday.
Coming off a career-high 11 wins last season, Ross Ohlendorf(notes) (0-0, 3.60) will face San Francisco for the first time. He gave up three runs - two earned - and four hits with three walks over five innings as the Pirates went on to beat the Dodgers 4-3 in 10 on Wednesday.
“It’s hard to be too upset with how I pitched when we win, though I would have liked to have pitched deeper into the game,” Ohlendorf told the Pirates’ official Web site.