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News » Giants-Diamondbacks Preview 2008-05-29

Giants-Diamondbacks Preview 2008-05-29

Giants-Diamondbacks Preview 2008-05-29
At the start of the San Francisco Giants' nine-game road trip, two straight wins for Barry Zito and a sweep of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks may have seemed like too much to ask for.

But that's just what the Giants will be seeking on Thursday, when they'll look for their sixth win of the trip as Zito takes the hill against the struggling NL West leaders.

After losing the final five games of a 3-7 homestand earlier this month - a stretch that included Zito dropping his eighth straight decision to start the year - the Giants (22-31) were a game out of last place and floundering.

But since opening their current trip with a 4-3 loss to Colorado, they've won five of seven, including Zito's first victory of the season and the first two games of their series in Phoenix. They had dropped four of five to the Diamondbacks (30-23) in April.

San Francisco's offense, which had been last in the majors in runs for parts of this season, has totaled 44 runs in the last seven games. Bengie Molina was 3-for-4 with his fifth straight multi-RBI game in Wednesday's 11-3 win, and the Giants catcher has hit safely in 10 straight games, batting .625 (20-for-32) on the road trip.

"He's a great hitter. His track record shows that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "When good hitters get in a zone, they're fun to watch."

Ray Durham added a home run and four RBIs Wednesday, while Aaron Rowand was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. In his last five games, Rowand is 9-for-18 with two homers and 10 RBIs.

Zito (1-8, 5.65 ERA) hopes the hot hitting continues. In his first nine starts, the left-hander was receiving just 2.2 runs of support per nine innings, but his 6 2-3 innings of three-hit, one-run pitching stood up in an 8-2 win over Florida on Friday.

The former AL Cy Young Award winner with Oakland in 2002 had briefly been dropped from the Giants' rotation earlier this season, but he's now given up just three runs in 11 1-3 innings in his last two starts.

"I think it was good to take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror and ask myself, what am I going to do about this situation?" Zito said. "It's just going out and being aggressive and being myself."

Zito has lost his last four starts against the Diamondbacks, allowing eight earned runs in 9 2-3 innings of two losses last month.

But he'll face a struggling Arizona lineup that has been held to three runs in each game of its three-game losing streak. The Diamondbacks have dropped seven of nine, scoring three or fewer runs in each of the losses.

"We raised expectations with our start in April (20-8), but you aren't going to win 20 games every month," Arizona manager Bob Melvin told his team's official Web site. "It's not that easy."

Randy Johnson (4-1, 4.03) will try to help the Diamondbacks avoid their longest losing streak of the season. The 44-year-old left-hander has won his last four decisions, and is coming off perhaps his two best starts of the season.

After throwing seven shutout innings against Detroit on May 18, Johnson allowed one run in six innings at Atlanta on Saturday, striking out 10 in an eventual 3-1 Arizona loss. With 4,663 strikeouts, he needs nine more to tie Roger Clemens for second on the all-time list behind Nolan Ryan.

"I don't put a lot of credence in that," Johnson said. "If you don't win the ballgame, it doesn't matter."

The Giants entered this week having lost 11 of 13 games in Phoenix, but already have clinched this series after losing their previous five there. They haven't swept the Diamondbacks on the road since 2005.

Arizona hasn't been swept at home all season.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 29, 2008

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