Nolasco Struggles For 3rd Straight Start, Giants Beat Dodgers 6-4
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Barry Zito won in what likely was his final hurrah for San Francisco, Pablo Sandoval backed him with a two-run homer and the Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 on Wednesday night.
Tony Abreu hit a bases-loaded triple to stake Zito to a quick 3-0 lead in the second, then added an RBI double in the sixth as last year’s World Series champions put themselves in position for a rare home series victory if they can win Thursday night’s rubber game with the NL West champion Dodgers.
Zito departed with little fanfare and nary one last standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 41,377 because he was replaced between innings.
He outpitched Ricky Nolasco (13-11), whose late-September struggles have the Dodgers a bit concerned with the playoffs looming.
The right-hander is 0-2 over his last three outings since getting victories in four consecutive starts and seven straight decisions.
Zito (5-11), making his first start since Sept. 2 at San Diego, snapped a 13-start winless stretch and eight-game losing streak — including his previous four starts — since beating Oakland on May 30.
The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner across the bay with the Athletics, Zito signed a $126 million, seven-year contract before the 2007 season.
Left off the roster for all three postseason rounds during the club’s run to the 2010 World Series title, Zito bounced back to win Game 5 of the NLCS last fall in St. Louis while facing elimination, then Game 1 of a surprising World Series sweep of Detroit.
Zito took a comebacker to the upper left leg in the fifth but stayed in to finish the inning and be in line for the win. But that was it, and catcher Buster Posey offered him a handshake in the dugout.
The Giants aren’t expected to pick up his $18 million option for 2014, but rather pay him a $7 million buyout.
Zito allowed four hits and one earned run in five innings, with a strikeout and no walks. The 35-year-old pitcher lowered his ERA while with the Giants by a point to 4.62, finishing with a seven-year record of 63-80 while facing harsh criticism for most of his largely disappointing tenure.
Manager Bruce Bochy told Zito on Tuesday he would get one final start in front of the home fans.
Zito surrendered consecutive singles then Matt Kemp’s RBI double in the fourth to prompt a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti, then got through the inning still holding a lead.
Kemp pulled the Dodgers within two runs with an RBI single in the eighth. Then Sergio Romo finished for his 37th save in 42 opportunities leaving a runner at second.
The Giants’ six runs were as many as they had total over their previous 49 innings — and Nolasco matched the six he had given up in five career starts at AT&T Park before Wednesday.
Following Posey’s leadoff double in the second, Nolasco plunked Hunter Pence in the left leg a day after Matt Cain hit Yasiel Puig with a pitch during Tuesday’s 2-1 Dodgers win.
Pablo Sandoval singled to load the bases and Abreu tripled two batters later. Sandoval hit his 14th homer in the fourth.
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