Giants 1, Diamondbacks 0

Saturday, April 21st 2007, 7:35 pm
By: News On 6

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 you.''

Zito (2-2) followed up his 6 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 2nd 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 8 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 4 hits and 3 walks. The Diamondbacks threatened in the 6th inning when they put 2 on with 1 out before Zito retired Orlando Hudson on a deep fly to left field and struck out Carlos Quentin.

Zito got a standing ovation when he was replaced by Brad Hennessey after walking Eric Byrnes to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out in the 8th to end his 126-pitch outing. He finished with 5 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 Vizquel.

Armando Benitez pitched the 9th for his fourth save in as many opportunities, finishing off the 5-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 2-3 on the day before leaving for a pinch runner after hitting a leadoff single in the 7th. Gonzalez pitched out of a 2nd-and-3rd, 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 1 run, 5 hits and no walks in 7 innings, striking out 7. He also nearly retired Bonds before the home run, but a foul ball off of 3rd 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.''

Bonds is 10-20 with 3 homers and 7 RBIs in six games since moving back to the cleanup spot after starting the season batting third.