With his lengthy undefeated stretch in the past, San Francisco's Barry Zito is poised to bounce back from one of the worst starts of his career.
The left-hander looks to regroup and help the Giants complete a three-game sweep of the visiting San Diego Padres on Sunday.Zito (2-1, 4.86 ERA) did not give up a run in his first two outings, and including the postseason, was in the midst of a 16-start stretch where he went 11-0 with a 2.93 ERA before being tagged for nine runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings of a 10-8 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday."Baseball's kind of a strange game," said Zito, who gave up eight of those runs in the third inning. "I actually felt better (Tuesday) than I did my first two games."While manager Bruce Bochy agreed with Zito's assessment that his stuff was decent, the veteran pitcher was grateful for his own run of success and is eager to take the mound for San Francisco (11-7) in the series finale."It's just important to put the past in the past and come out and not take anything for granted," Zito, who went 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA while pitching in all three rounds during the 2012 postseason, told the Giants' official website. "Each day is a new day. That's something I pride myself on, going out (Sunday) and fighting and grinding."Zito looks to get back on track and improve his 4-9 record and 4.80 ERA in 20 starts against the Padres (5-12).He'll have a tough task in following up Saturday's effort by teammate Tim Lincecum, who allowed four hits and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings of a 2-0 win over San Diego."(Lincecum's) fastball had good life on it," said San Diego's Chase Headley, who is 2 for 10 in three games since coming of the disabled list with a broken thumb. "When a guy has a split-finger that really dodges the plate and he has a fastball that's riding through the zone, that makes that pitch better."Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run homer for one of three hits for the Giants, who haven't scored more than three runs in any of the last four games but have won two straight after being swept in a three-game set at Milwaukee.San Francisco has won three straight overall versus San Diego and 14 of 18 at home against the Padres.Sandoval's homer is his only hit in 11 at-bats over three contests since a 10-game hitting streak. He's 6 for 10 with a double and a triple against scheduled Padres starter Eric Stults (2-1, 3.94), but could be rested Sunday after he fouled a ball off his foot."I'm fine," Sandoval said.Stults, who is 3-0 with a 3.67 ERA in his last four starts versus San Francisco, allowed three runs and nine hits over six innings in a 6-3 win at Dodger Stadium on Monday."I feel like I made a lot of good pitches," said the left-hander, who also hit a three-run homer.Everth Cabrera had two hits Saturday for San Diego, which has been held to two runs and 10 hits in two games at San Francisco after totaling 22 and 37 hits during a three-game sweep of Los Angeles this week.