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05/23/08 11:55 PM ET
Giants support Zito's solid first win
Lefty pitches 6 1/3 innings; Molina, Rowand, Castillo homer
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
MIAMI -- There's got to be something about South Florida that makes Barry Zito a better pitcher. Last year, a seven-inning shutout on Aug. 17 at Dolphin Stadium served as the launching pad for the lefty lowering his ERA by 2.03 points over his last nine starts of the season. On Friday night, it saved him from making the wrong kind of history. Zito worked a season-high 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, and the Giants got the bats going early en route to an 8-2 win against the Marlins in front of 15,003 at Dolphin Stadium. The win prevented Zito, who allowed just one run on three hits while walking four and striking out five, from becoming the first starting pitcher in Giants history to go 0-9 to start the season. After allowing a run in the first inning, the 30-year-old lefty went on to retire 13 of the next 15 hitters he faced. Now, Zito can finally get that monkey off his back. "It's a result. I try to work in the process, and results just happen as they may," said Zito, who dropped his ERA from 6.25 to 5.65 and has a 3.26 ERA since being moved to the bullpen following his April 27 start. "I think [the move to the bullpen] allowed me to take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror and ask myself what I'm going to do about this situation. "[But] I stopped concerning myself with what people talk about long before this." With the win, the Giants matched a season-high three-game winning streak after dropping six in a row before that. But the two previous Giants wins were one-run ballgames where timely hitting and small ball were crucial. Not on Friday. The Giants scored seven runs in the first four innings and forced Marlins starter Scott Olsen into a season-low 3 1/3-inning outing. San Francisco got most of its production out of the middle of the lineup, as Randy Winn, Bengie Molina and Aaron Rowand combined to go 7-for-12 with two home runs, five RBIs and six runs scored. "It makes it a lot easier when those guys do what they did [Friday]," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We don't score a lot of runs, but tonight they swung it well. "It seems like the day off did them good." The Giants got two in the top of the first off an RBI single by Molina and a sacrifice fly by Rowand that brought in Winn. After the Marlins got one back in the bottom of the first off an RBI double by Dan Uggla, the Giants scored three more in the third. Rowand got his second of three RBIs with a single to left field, and Rich Aurilia hit a two-run double to straightaway center. In the fourth, the Giants hit back-to-back home runs for the first time this season when Molina and Rowand followed one another to make it a six-run game and force the Marlins to go into their bullpen early. "As a team, one of the things that we haven't done consistently is get the run in," Rowand said. "We've had opportunities with leads in games to tack on runs, and we haven't done it, and it's come back to bite us in those close ballgames. The last two or three days, we've been making adjustments and doing what we have to do." The Giants' eighth run of the game -- and season-high third home run -- may not have meant much in the final score, but it did to the guy that hit it. In the eighth inning, third baseman Jose Castillo got a little payback when he homered against the team that put him on waivers in Spring Training. Keiichi Yabu, Jack Taschner and Vinnie Chulk combined to throw the last 2 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, giving up one run on one hit -- a solo homer by Uggla. "The hitting was there, the pitching was there, and it was a great ballgame all the way around," Bochy said. "I'm happy for [Zito]. It's always good to get that first win." If -- as expected -- Omar Vizquel starts Saturday, he will tie Luis Aparicio for the most games appeared in as a shortstop at 2,583.
Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.