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CIN@SF: Zito fans three in six frames of one-run ball

Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens wants to take another step toward returning to his former status as one of the most promising young pitchers in the National League when he takes the mound Tuesday against the Giants in the opener of a three-game series at Turner Field.

Veteran Giants left-hander Barry Zito, meanwhile, wants to deliver another solid performance and give his first-place team a chance to keep clicking off wins in the NL West race.

The 26-year-old Jurrjens won 13 games for the Braves in 2008, 14 in '09 and 13 in '11 after injuries marred a '10 season in which he won just seven games.

Jurrjens made the NL All-Star team last year, but he was limited to just seven starts during the second half due to continued issues with his right knee.

His struggles continued in the early part of this season, as he was demoted to the Minors in late April after compiling a 9.37 ERA over his first four starts.

His results weren't much better during his time with Triple-A Gwinnett, as he had a 5.10 ERA over 10 starts.

He returned to the Braves on June 22 and has won his last two starts and three of four.

Overall, Jurrjens is 3-2 with a 4.97 ERA and will take the mound against San Francisco following a strong outing in his last start July 8 when he pitched seven innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs in a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia.

His resurgence is all about regaining strength, Jurrjens said.

"I was just lacking strength," he said in a recent interview. "It was about going down there [to Gwinnett] and having me correct and get back to my delivery and get my strength back again.

"I've been working hard, with the pitching coach, Marty Reed, and the trainer, Matt Parvis. I've been working hard with them every day and you can see the hard work paying off."

Zito is 7-6 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts and is coming off a struggle in his last outing July 6 against the Pirates, when he gave up seven hits and four runs in five innings, but toughed it out in clutch situations to get credit for the victory in a 6-5 Giants victory.

After losing three straight decisions in June, he has won two of his last three starts.

"I give Z credit," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after that game. "He stayed out of the real big inning and kept the damage at a minimum and gave us a chance."

Zito acknowledged his control was off and gave credit to his teammates for battling through a tough game.

"I was just missing off the plate a few times," he said. "I had to make some adjustments, but the boys came out swinging."

"They're not just cashing it in and sitting back, waiting for something to happen. They're making it happen," Zito said about his run support. "It was just indicative of this team. We just fight it out [for] nine innings."

Giants: Posey, Sanchez coming through
• San Francisco is getting excellent production from the catching position, with Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez leading the league with 65 RBIs while serving as backstops. The duo has 71 total RBIs between them -- 47 for Posey and 24 for Sanchez.

• Zito is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five career starts against the Braves. He has done well at Turner Field, going 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 25 strikeouts in four outings.

Braves: Winning streak at seven
• The Braves have won seven straight and are in second place in the National League East, three games behind the first-place Nationals.

• Chipper Jones had two hits in four at-bats in Sunday's 6-1 victory over the Mets to raise his batting average to .317.

Worth noting
• The Giants have struggled defensively. Their 71 errors are the most in the NL and third in the Majors behind the Orioles' 77 and the Rays' 72.

• Since suffering his first and only blown save of the year May 2, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has converted 19 consecutive save opportunities and has posted an .073 (6-for-82) opponents' batting average, an 0.72 ERA (two earned runs in 25 innings) and 44 strikeouts in 25 games. Comments