SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Zito looked like the Zito of old.
While Giants fans might point to the magic of the orange jerseys worn on Friday nights, the reality is that Zito had pinpoint control of the strike zone with all his pitches.
Zito tossed eight scoreless innings, tied his season high with ten strikeouts, and allowed just two hits in a 1-0 win over the Mets.
In his prior outing in Milwaukee, Zito couldn’t make it through five innings, and was pulled after 4.2 innings and was just one out short of qualifying for the win. This time Zito got the win and it was his first victory since beating his former team, the A’s on July 12, snapping a two game losing streak over his last five starts.
“It was tough for me to get taken out in that situation,” Zito admitted. “It may have had an effect, it’s nothing conscious but I just wanted to go out there and help the team.”
San Francisco is on a roll having won four straight and nine of its last 11 games. They are also 7-0 in the orange tops on Friday night.
“These are the types of games you’ve got to win if you think you’re a contender,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “A good club that’s going to be in it; you’ve got to win games like this.”
The Giants didn’t exactly tear it up offensively. Following a one out walk to Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey hit an opposite field double down the right field line. With runners at second and third, Pat Burrell hit a grounder to second and Huff beat the throw to the plate. That’s all Zito would get and he made it stand up.
“I was going on contact, whether it was hit to first, third…anywhere,” Huff said. “I saw (catcher Rod) Barajas trying to catch it but I was called safe and it was a good feeling. I don’t think I’ve ever been so pumped up to score a run in the fifth inning ever.”
Huff had a good night at the plate, was 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
When Zito is at his best, often times the batter has taken a pitch or two, falls behind in the count and then is forced to swing at a pitch out of the zone resulting in either a strike out, or a fly out.
“The last two games, Timmy and Barry, their mound presence was outstanding,” Huff said. “You see it in their face. They’re going out there and thowing strikes. That’s the key, they’re not walking anybody and pitching to contact.”
The Mets once got a runner in scoring position in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Carlos Beltran blooped a double to right field just past a diving attempt by Nate Scheirholtz. But that’s as far as New York would get. Zito induced Jeff Francouer to foul out to first base.
“(Zito) did a good job and we made him look good,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “We have to be a little more consistent offensively. We didn’t have many good opportunities or swings but one thing I did like, we got a good pitching performance from John Niese and we played good defense.”
Just like R.A. Dickey the night before, rookie Jonathan Niese allowed only a run in seven innings but without any run support, he was the hard luck loser.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Niese said. “We turned some great plays out there and had some great outfield catches. But it’s tough, Barry did a great job pitching. Last night and tonight, these are tough losses to get over.”
In the ninth inning Brian Wilson closed it out for the save, David Wright with a two out single to center field but a dominating performance by the Giants pitching staff. San Francisco has won the first two games of the series despite a whopping total of three runs scored.
“Those two guys going out the last two nights, I mean we’ve only scored three runs,” Huff said. “It goes to show how good our pitching staff is. If we can just scratch across a few here or there, we’ve got a great chance to win every night.”
Notes: Giants broadcaster Jon Miller was honored before the game in a special ceremony. Miller is the 2010 Ford Frick award winner for broadcasting excellence and will be enshrined in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday July 25. He will be away to broadcast the ESPN Sunday Night game of the week in Chicago so this was the team’s opportunity to pay tribute to him before the induction ceremonies. … Mets RHP Mike Pelfrey’s next start is being pushed back to Monday after he complained of stiffness in his neck following their flight to San Francisco earlier in the week. Hisanori Takahashi (7-3) who was scheduled for Monday will take Pelfrey’s place. … The Giants hit into four double plays. … Giants C Buster Posey has a 10-game hit streak
Giants post-game audio:
Giants manager Bruce Bochy says winning the close games are critical for a team in contention
First baseman Aubrey Huff says the Giants starting pitching is so good, they only need a few runs to win games
Barry Zito says after his last outing in Milwaukee, he wanted to pitch more aggressively
Mets post-game audio:
Mets manager Jerry Manuel says his team needs to do better offensively
Mets losing pitcher Jonathan Niese says getting shut out in consecutive games despite solid outings by himself and R.A. Dickey are really tough losses