SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Barry Zito appears to pitch better the later it gets in the season, and his teammates are taking notice.
“He’s nipping at the corners and making guys put the ball in play,” said Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand, who had a pair of doubles in the win. “He’s always had great stuff but he just hit a tough spot where he was leaving pitches over the plate. He’s not doing that now. He’s worked his way through the tough times and it has made him a better pitcher and a better person.”
Rich Aurilia, whose baserunning error cost the Giants earlier, tripled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth as San Francisco matched its season-best four-game winning streak.
“That’s a notch in my triple belt for the year,” said Aurilia, who has 22 career triples, including at least one in each of the past 11 years.
Zito (8-15) allowed four hits in eight innings for his third win at home in 13 decisions. He gave up three runs, walked three and struck out five as the Giants won four straight for the first time since June 6-9.
“The first few innings I was definitely in a good tempo,” Zito said. “The key is staying in that tempo no matter what is going on around me. I got away from my approach that inning but it was nice to come back from that.”
Zito’s 27 wins in August are his most in any month. And his 2.81 ERA is tops, too.
“I’m seeing the ‘Z’ man getting into a groove when he’s pitching like that consistently,” Rowand said.
Brian Wilson worked a perfect ninth for his 34th save in 37 chances.
Mike Adams (1-2) gave up Aurilia’s triple to take the loss, the Padres sixth straight.
San Diego starter Dirk Hayhurst went four innings in his major league debut, allowing three runs on five hits and a pair of walks.
“I wish I had some clean-cut cliche to share but I don’t,” Hayhurst said. “It was amazing. It was nerve-racking. It was inspiring. There’s a lot of adjectives but I don’t think any one of them does it justice. It’s the culmination of every dream.”
After giving up Rowand’s double to put the Giants up 2-0 in the first, he retired eight of nine to get through the third. The 27-year-old right-hander made two starts in 46 appearances with San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate in Portland, where he was called up from Saturday to make the start.
Dave Roberts walked to lead off the first, stole second and went to third on Ivan Ochoa’s bunt single. Randy Winn’s groundout scored Roberts, and Rowand followed with a double to put the Giants up 2-0.
“After those things started playing out I realized this is still baseball, the same game at any level,” Hayhurst said. “Then I got competitive and I didn’t want to lose or give in.”
Pablo Sandoval, who has hit safely in seven of his eight games this year, led off the fourth with a double and two outs later was on third. The Padres walked Emmanuel Burriss but Zito spoiled the strategy with a soft liner into right field to make it 3-2 Giants.
Headley’s double in the sixth tied the game at 3.
Aurilia was caught leaning off second base by catcher Josh Bard. He slipped trying to get back to second and was an easy out.
To make room for Hayhurst on the roster, the Padres optioned infielder Brian Myrow to Triple-A Portland. … Rowand’s two doubles gave him 200 for his career. … In a dogs day promotion, ‘Clouseau’ won the award for best costume, while Bengie the Crazy Crab finished second. … Giants LHP Noah Lowry, out since March following lower forearm surgery, continued his throwing program with a long toss session. … Three of Zito’s four career RBIs have been against the Padres. … Padres IF Edgar Gonzalez stole second in the sixth, his first career stolen base.