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SF@CHC: Schierholtz puts Giants ahead with single

CHICAGO -- As a music enthusiast, Barry Zito knows all about the importance of recognizing the proper beat. Tuesday night, he picked up the Giants' rhythm without a hitch.

Contributing handsomely to the effort that lengthened the Giants' winning streak to a season-high seven games, Zito thrived in his first Major League outing since April 15 by working seven solid innings in San Francisco's 6-3 triumph over the Chicago Cubs.

The decision gave the Giants a sweep of their day-night doubleheader, combined with a 13-7 triumph in the first game. It was an unusually fruitful day for the Giants, who accumulated 30 hits while soaring 12 games above .500 (46-34) for the first time this season.

Zito, who accented his recovery from a sprained right foot by allowing two runs and only four hits, improved to 111-6 lifetime when receiving at least four runs of support. The Giants generated that magic minimum in a five-run fifth inning that erased Chicago's 2-1 advantage. Nate Schierholtz, who went 3-for-4, contributed one of his two RBI singles to the go-ahead rally.

Most athletes would have exuded triumphant satisfaction after delivering the type of performance Zito sustained. But the left-hander sounded exceedingly reserved as he addressed reporters.

Asked why he seemed so devoid of emotion, Zito replied, "For me, there's a lot of focus required in doing that stuff out there."

What he did was silence the team that ranked second in the National League with a .266 batting average entering Tuesday. Aside from the third inning, when he surrendered Lou Montanez's two-run homer, Zito (1-1) did not permit a runner to reach scoring position.

"He looked like he's confident throwing strikes," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Zito, who issued two walks. "Sometimes when things go awry is when he puts guys on base and walks guys. He threw more quality strikes. ... That's a good-hitting ballclub over there, so no lead is safe."

Zito faltered only in the third inning, when he gave up Montanez's homer. Starlin Castro's two-out triple prolonged that inning, but Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford made the play of the night by diving to snare Aramis Ramirez's sharp grounder, straightening and firing a perfect throw to first base.

Crawford, a lifelong Giants fan who watched Zito pitch for Oakland while growing up in the East Bay town of Pleasanton, Calif., said that he thought he had a "pretty good chance" to turn what looked like an RBI single for Ramirez into the inning-ending out.

"He makes it look easy on the throw," Bochy said. "He has great carry on the ball."

The Giants' next highlight was their big fifth, which began with Andres Torres' bloop single off Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez (0-2). Torres stole second base and reached third on Emmanuel Burriss' groundout.

Then the fun really started for the Giants. Torres dashed home on Pablo Sandoval's fly to center field and was called out by umpire Tim McClelland, who reversed his ruling when Cubs catcher Geovany Soto dropped the ball. Initially scored as a sacrifice fly for Sandoval, the play was changed to an error on Soto after the game.

"I think that changed the whole game," Lopez said. "We couldn't finish the fifth inning with the lead. I saw the replay and of course, I think he was out. The umpires see it different and the Giants see it different, too."

That left two outs, but Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross singled to prolong the inning and chase Lopez. Schierholtz singled to score Huff and scored with Ross on Crawford's opposite-field double to left. Eli Whiteside's bloop single sent home Crawford with the inning's final run.

Crawford savored his hit, which short-hopped the ivy-covered wall. It represented the fruits of his labor with hitting coach Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens, who's trying to cure Crawford of rolling over pitches and tapping harmless grounders.

"That's what I've been working on with Bam Bam, driving the ball the other way," said Crawford, who went 2-for-4 to lift his average from .185 to .198.

Guillermo Mota surrendered Ramirez's leadoff homer in the ninth before Brian Wilson retired all three batters he faced to record his Major League-leading 24th save. Comments