Molina's four RBIs carry Zito past Bucs
Catcher goes 4-for-4 with homer as Giants remain hot
SAN FRANCISCO -- Left-hander Barry Zito moved into a locker on the other side of the Giants clubhouse this season. He wanted a change of scenery and wanted, in part, to honor former teammate Rich Aurilia, whose locker he assumed.The new perspective has given Zito a fresh start, and he's responded with two solid outings to open his fourth year with the team. Bengie Molina went 4-for-4 with a homer and drove in four runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-3, on Monday night in front of 26,011 at AT&T Park. "He seems comfortable no matter where you put him in the lineup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He has a knack for driving in runs." Zito (2-0) allowed three runs on four hits over six-plus innings to win his second straight to start the season for the first time since 2003. He walked three and struck out a batter. "I just wanted to change it up," Zito said of his locker switch. "Richie was a huge part of this team, and he meant a lot to me personally, and I wanted to honor him and carry on his legacy." Zito also mentioned it was closer to the kitchen and in a corner with several other veterans. April has been Zito's cruelest month. He had not won in the month since 2007, dropping eight straight decisions (nine if you include a start in March) before this season. He was 2-11 in April with the Giants before winning in Houston in his season debut. "I usually feel pretty good in the second half of the season," he said. "My goal is to bring that second-half guy into the first half." He's succeeded, even without his best stuff. "It wasn't quite as strong as his last outing, but he gave us six solid innings," Bochy said. "That's two good starts for him. Hopefully he stays on a roll." Mark DeRosa drove in two runs, and Pablo Sandoval had three hits as the Giants continued their early-season success, winning six of their first seven games for a tie with the Phillies for MLB's best record. Aubrey Huff added two hits and drove in a run. He was also hit by pitches twice and walked once to reach base five times. He's been on base in each of his last eight plate appearances. "When you get on base, you create opportunities for other guys," Huff said. "That puts more pressure on the pitcher and makes them think about it a little more. I think the idea was for Mark and me to come in here, be patient and see pitches." Jose Uribe also drove in a run for the Giants, while Sandoval scored on a wild pitch. Molina also reached base in all five plate appearances and has successfully reached six consecutive times. Sandoval recorded his second straight three-hit game, yet is still 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. He is hitting .250 (4-for-16) when he faces a pitcher for the first time in a game, but he blasts off with a .615 average (8-for-13) afterward. Zito also reached another plateau in San Francisco, moving two games above .500 for the first time in a Giants uniform. It was his 100th start (101st appearance) with the Giants. Zito is looking to win at least 10 games for the 10th straight season. He was 7-4 in 14 starts as a rookie with the Oakland Athletics in 2000, but has reached the double-digit plateau in each season since. Sergio Romo, Dan Runzler and Guillermo Mota each pitched an inning in relief for the Giants. The Giants took advantage of some early wildness from Pirates emergency starter Brian Burres, scoring three runs on DeRosa's two-run single and Molina's RBI single. Burres, a former Giants' farmhand, walked Edgar Renteria and hit Huff ahead of DeRosa's hit. Huff was also hit by a pitch in the third, tripled in the fourth, singled in the sixth and walked in the eighth. After reaching third following his triple to the deepest corner of the park, he asked coach Tim Flannery what he needed to do to hit it out of the park. "That's all I've got right there," Huff said. "If that doesn't go out, it is what it is. When you hit it into that corner, it's basically a triple."
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.