Zito pitches Giants past Dodgers 11-2 in season finale
LOS ANGELES (AP)—For one of the few times this season, Barry Zito pitched like a $126 million man. He hopes the performance gives him something to build on for next year.
“He finished on a great note. He threw great today,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s nice to end a difficult season with a win.”
Zito (11-13), who signed a $126 million, seven-year contract last winter, had a disappointing first season with the Giants. But he was on his game in the finale, retiring 18 of 20 batters in the first six innings while his teammates built a 9-0 lead.
“It’s just important for me always to compete,” he said. “A lot of guys were dying to get out of here. I was taking it as seriously as any other start. I’ll just take this into my offseason and come out ready to go next year.
“We have a lot to build on. It’s good we can get out of here on a good note at the end of a disappointing season.”
The Dodgers know all about disappointment. Preseason favorites to win the NL West, they lost 11 of their last 14 games to fall out of contention.
“It’s just been a tough last few weeks,” Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre said. “When you put all your heart and soul into the game you love and you’re not successful as a team, it’s real frustrating. It’s not a matter of being relieved that it’s over, because you knew you were a pitch here or a hit there from turning it around.”
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt expressed his disappointment before the finale.
“We should be playing next week,” he said. “It’s sort of an odd place I’m at right now. I feel the fans’ disappointment. I share it. On the other hand, I feel something very positive here. The future is very, very bright.”
Zito allowed five hits—three singles by Matt Kemp, a two-run homer by pinch hitter Delwyn Young and a double by Pierre. The 29-year-old left-hander walked none, struck out four and finished with a 4.53 ERA.
The Dodgers (82-80) and Giants (71-91) brought up the rear in the NL West for just the second time since divisional play began in 1969.
Barry Bonds, dressed in street clothes, declined to speak with reporters before the game, and indicated he wouldn’t be hanging around long during it and wasn’t see afterward. The 43-year-old Bonds, baseball’s single-season and career home run leader, played his final game in a Giants’ uniform Wednesday in San Francisco.
“It’s nice on a personal note,” Winn said. “It’ll be nice to look back at 10 years from now. The season itself was a disappointment, We expected to play better.”
The Giants blew the game open by scoring five runs in the fourth on an RBI single by Guillermo Rodriguez, a two-run homer by Vizquel, his fourth of the season, a throwing error by catcher Russell Martin and Feliz’s run-scoring single.
Stults, making his fifth big-league start, allowed 11 hits and six runs in four innings.
Young’s second big league homer, which landed halfway up the left field pavilion, came one out after Kemp started the seventh with his third single.
The game was played before an announced crowd of 49,211 on Fan Appreciation Day, lifting the season attendance at Dodger Stadium to a franchise-record 3,857,036. … McCourt confirmed that GM Ned Colletti and manager Grady Little will return next season. Both are under contract. … The 40-year-old Vizquel has 77 homers in 9,479 career at-bats. Vizquel, who ranks second in baseball history with 2,570 career games played at shortstop, said he hopes to return to the Giants next season. He has won 11 Gold Gloves—second only to Ozzie Smith’s 13 at his position. … Pierre, who had a team-leading 196 hits, played in 162 games for the fifth straight year. His consecutive-game streak of 434 is the longest among active players. … Pierre recorded two assists in the finale, doubling his season total.
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