SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Zito
wanted to be more than just the star of his own show Wednesday.
Well after he was pulled from a 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers
, his 63rd win as a San Francisco Giant already secured, Zito took matters into his own hands to assure the ultimate happy ending.
Denied a curtain call because of the circumstances under which he was removed from the game in the fifth inning, Zito went out onto the AT&T Park field shortly after Sergio Romo
had recorded the final out and said goodbye to the fans, applauding the faithful as much as they applauded him.
"That meant a lot to me," he said of acknowledging the Giants' 242nd consecutive sellout. "There's not a lot of chance for closure in sports. There's never really goodbyes, so I hung around after. That was nice."
Zito allowed one earned run over five innings in what is expected to be his final start for the Giants, pitching the dethroned National League West champions past the 2013 division champs.
Tony Abreu drove in a career-high four runs, three with a second-inning triple, and Pablo Sandoval socked a two-run home run as the Giants helped Zito improve his career record when handed at least five runs of support to 120-1.
San Francisco scored a total of six runs in its previous five games.
"I couldn't be happier for him right now," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who gave the veteran left-hander a little more than just 24 hours' notice that he would make Wednesday's start. "This guy has done everything we've asked of him."
In clinching their fourth consecutive season-series win over their rivals, the Giants lit up Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco (13-11) for eight hits and six runs in 5 2/3 innings. Nolasco, who was undefeated with a 1.47 ERA in five previous starts at AT&T Park, struck out seven and walked one.
The loss dropped the Dodgers 2 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals
and two back of the Atlanta Braves
in the race for home-field advantage in the NL playoffs. Los Angeles has four games remaining in the regular season.
Despite getting demoted from the rotation because of eight consecutive losses and a skid that saw him earn one win in his previous 20 starts, Zito (5-11) lobbied Bochy for one final home start before his Giants contract probably will be terminated this offseason.
Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Giants in December 2006 after winning a Cy Young Award and making three All-Star Game appearances for the Oakland A's. San Francisco has a club option on an eighth season in 2014, but the Giants are expected to exercise a $7 million buyout.
The 35-year-old went 63-80 in 197 starts with San Francisco -- exactly $2 million per win.
"I knew it was going to be a heckuva ride, on and off the field," Zito said of his Giants career. "It certainly has been for me. A lot of ups and downs, to say the least.
"It's been such a cool situation -- 14 years in the (San Francisco Bay Area), seven in the big city. It's been great. Well, it's been 95 percent great and the other 5 percent has been terrible."
Facing a Dodgers lineup employing backups at every infield position, Zito gave up four hits and two runs (one earned). He struck out one and didn't walk a batter.
Presuming he doesn't pitch again this week, Zito will finish the season having allowed opponents to hit .319 against him, which not only is the highest among all pitchers this year but also ranks as the highest in Giants history.
"He had some ups and downs," Bochy said. "Overall, it's been a pleasure for me to have him here. We know what he did for us (in the run to the World Series title) last year. There's not a better competitor."
George Kontos, Jean Machi, Santiago Casilla and Romo followed Zito with one inning of relief apiece. Romo recorded his 37th save in a scoreless ninth.
Matt Kemp had three hits, including a double, and two RBIs for the Dodgers. Carl Crawford added a double and a single, scoring after each hit.
Los Angeles second baseman Mark Ellis and third baseman Juan Uribe were rested in advance of the start of the playoffs next week. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez
and shortstop Hanley Ramirez both appeared as pinch hitters with two outs in the ninth.
Gonzalez kept Dodgers' hopes alive with a double to the base of the fence in right field, but Romo ended the game by getting Ramirez to ground out to third base on a full-count pitch.
Afterward, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly refused to say Nolasco's last three starts -- Nolasco allowed 19 runs in his past 12 innings -- eliminated him from consideration for the postseason rotation.
"Your guys are your guys. We're not all of a sudden going to go do something different," Mattingly said. "It's like saying a guy is struggling the last week. Are you going to quit playing him?"
Buster Posey had two hits and scored two runs for San Francisco.
NOTES: Zito earned his 10th career win over the Dodgers. He has more victories against just three other teams -- the Texas Rangers
(18), Seattle Mariners
(12) and Los Angeles Angels
(12). ... Zito started in place of LHP Madison Bumgarner, whom the Giants announced won't pitch again this season. Bumgarner's 2.77 ERA is fifth best in the NL, and his .203 batting average against ranks third. ... Giants 2B Marco Scutaro, who Tuesday was told to take the rest of the season off, will undergo surgery Friday on his injured left pinky finger. ... Kemp is 11-for-28 (.393) since returning from the disabled list Sept. 16.
- Sports & Recreation
- Barry Zito
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- San Francisco
- Sergio Romo