April 21, 2007
Yahoo! Sports: Bonds: Love him or hate him?
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Barry Zito that San Francisco Giants fans saw in his
first two starts of the season looked nothing like a former Cy Young Award
winner who just signed the richest contract ever for a pitcher.
Now that he's no longer trying to live up to the expectations that came with
his $126 million contract, Zito has once again found his groove.
Zito put together his second straight scoreless outing to earn his first win
at home with the Giants, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 Saturday behind
Barry Bonds' 739th career home run.
"I think I was getting caught up in everything," said Zito, who was 0-2
with an 8.18 ERA after his first two starts of the season.
"It started to seem like more than baseball. There was a whole lot of stuff
going on. These last couple of games it's been go out and have fun like when
you're a kid. Put everything outside your head and let your stuff work for
Zito (2-2) followed up his six scoreless innings in Colorado on Monday with
7 1-3 more against the Diamondbacks, the first time he has had consecutive
scoreless starts since winning the Cy Young with Oakland in 2002.
Bonds provided the offense with a home run to lead off the second inning
against Edgar Gonzalez (1-2) that left him 17 homers away from breaking Hank
Aaron's career record of 755.
The big day for San Francisco's star Barrys gave the Giants their fourth
straight win. San Francisco has won seven of nine following a 1-6 start under
new manager Bruce Bochy.
"Both Barrys came through for us today," Bochy said. "I think guys feel
better with the way things are going. We got off to a rough start but we know
it's a long season."
Zito had struggled in his first two outings at home, losing the season
opener to San Diego and getting shelled for eight runs by the Los Angeles
Dodgers in his second start.
Even though he's normally a slow starter, this was a cause for concern for
Giants fans. But he followed that up with the strong start at Coors Field and
then his first win in front of his new fans.
"This is the Barry Zito that we've seen in the American League," catcher
Bengie Molina said. "He hit his spots very well today. He hit inside to open up
the changeup and curveball. He did great today."
Zito ran into little trouble, allowing four hits and three walks. The
Diamondbacks threatened in the sixth inning when they put two on with one out
before Zito retired Orlando Hudson on a deep fly to left field and struck out
Zito got a standing ovation when he was replaced by Brad Hennessey after
walking Eric Byrnes to put runners on first and second with one out in the
eighth to end his 126-pitch outing. He finished with five strikeouts.
Hennessey struck out Chris Young before walking Hudson to load the bases. He
escaped the threat by retiring Quentin on a hard grounder to shortstop Omar
Armando Benitez pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many
opportunities, finishing off the five-hitter. Pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo
grounded out with runners on the corners to end the game.
"We had our opportunities," manager Bob Melvin said. "But right now we're
struggling to get a hit with runners in scoring position."
Bonds went 2-for-3 on the day before leaving for a pinch runner after
hitting a leadoff single in the seventh. Gonzalez pitched out of a
second-and-third, no-out jam that inning by retiring Ryan Klesko on a groundout
with the infield in and striking out Molina and Randy Winn.
Gonzalez allowed one run, five hits and no walks in seven innings, striking
out seven. He also nearly retired Bonds before the home run, but a foul ball off
of third base landed in the stands just out of Chad Tracy's reach. Bonds then
hit the next ball well over the center-field fence. There was no doubt it would
clear the fence and the scoreboard flashed "739" before the ball even landed.
"I made one mistake," Gonzalez said. "It was supposed to be inside, and
it stayed right in the middle. When he swung, I knew it was trouble. It's Barry
Bonds is 10-for-20 with three homers and seven RBIs in six games since
moving back to the cleanup spot after starting the season batting third.
San Francisco INF Rich Aurilia singled in the fourth inning to extend
his hitting streak to 14 games, matching his career high set last season in
Cincinnati. ... Quentin went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is hitless in 14
at-bats on the road trip. ... The last time Zito had consecutive scoreless
starts was Sept. 8 and Sept. 13, 2002, when he blanked Minnesota and Seattle.
... Arizona has lost five of six.
Updated on Saturday, Apr 21, 2007 8:28 pm EDT
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