The San Francisco Giants are no longer atop the NL West following another sluggish offensive performance.
A perpetual victim of poor run support, Zito looks to avoid losing his eighth straight game and help the Giants bounce back from their latest defeat in Sunday’s series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers.
With San Francisco (83-66) losing to the Brewers 2-1 on Saturday, coupled with San Diego’s 8-4 win in St. Louis, the Giants fell out of first place in the NL West, one-half game back of the Padres. San Francisco, which is also just one-half game ahead of surging Colorado, is two games behind Atlanta for the wild card.
Pitching has carried the Giants during the stretch run, posting a major league-best 1.64 ERA this month and yielding three runs or fewer in each of the last 13 games.
The team has been unable to take full advantage, however, plating two runs or fewer in six of the last eight games. Pablo Sandoval(notes) is enduring particularly rough times, batting .105 with two RBIs in his last 13 games.
“I do think we’re trying to do too much, overswinging a little bit,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ve got to calm down a little bit. I know they all want to be the guy.”
San Francisco managed five hits Saturday after being limited to three singles in Friday’s 3-0 loss to Milwaukee (69-78), but one of the team’s most embarrassing offensive showings came in Zito’s last start.
Zito and four relievers combined to one-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, but the Giants mustered just four hits of their own and lost 1-0. Zito pitched 5 2-3 innings, allowing the hit and the lone run, which scored on shortstop Juan Uribe’s(notes) two-out error in the sixth.
Zito lost his career-high seventh straight game - a stretch that includes a loss in relief - and has dropped a career-worst nine consecutive decisions since beating the New York Mets on July 16.
Although Zito has a 5.00 ERA without a victory in his last 12 outings, he isn’t entirely to blame. The Giants have backed the left-hander with 11 total runs of support, including five starts in which they didn’t score for Zito at all.
He has been one of Milwaukee’s top pitchers lately, however, going 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his last four starts and yielding three earned runs or fewer in each of his last nine. In Houston on Monday, the left-hander allowed one run and struck out seven in six innings, but didn’t receive a decision in a 4-2 loss.
Zito was shaky in his lone start of the season against Milwaukee on July 8, allowing two runs, seven hits and six walks in 4 2-3 innings of San Franciso’s eventual 9-3 win. He hasn’t gotten credit for defeating the Brewers since his first outing against them in 2002, a span of seven starts.