Giants shut out by Athletics
Zito struggles against former team; bats held to six hits
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Zito thinks the team needs to play looser, have a little more fun. Randy Winn wants people to be themselves. Dave Roberts hopes to give his teammates a spark now that he's back in the lineup.This after the Giants ran into the American League's top pitcher in Dan Haren on Saturday, dropping a 6-0 decision to the Athletics. It was the Giants' fifth shutout this year. The Giants could manage no more than five hits -- two by Barry Bonds -- off Haren, who lowered his Major League-best ERA to 1.58 after shutting out San Francisco over seven innings. "He pitched the way I've seen him do for quite a while," Winn said. "He's always been tough since he was traded to Oakland. In the tradition of Oakland starters, he kept building and adding pitches. He's got to be right up there with the best we've faced." The Giants had trouble getting anything going. Only three runners got as far as second base, and they only had seven total baserunners. "A good pitcher can make a team look flat," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's done that a lot this year. It was all him today. He's probably the hottest pitcher in baseball. We couldn't figure Haren out." Figuring out any pitcher has been trouble lately for the Giants, who lost for the 11th time in 15 games. They've had some close calls, including Friday night's extra-inning loss. "We need to pitch better, we need to hit better, we need to do better in situational hitting and we need to play better defense," Winn said. "We need to get better across the board. Could we be a little looser? Yeah, but you want guys to be themselves, to do what is comfortable." Zito thinks that having fun and playing loose will lead to victories. "We can't beat ourselves before we go out there," said Zito. "We can't hang our heads. The key to a good summer is to treat every day like a new day and not an extension of what has happened. We could play a little looser and have a little more fun out there; just enjoy the game." On a day when the Giants placed two players on the disabled list, getting a lift from Roberts' return was the best news. Catcher Eliezer Alfonzo went on the DL with a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and could miss the rest of the season. Outfielder Fred Lewis was shelved with a right oblique strain. Roberts (left elbow), who had been in Las Vegas on a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, was recalled to fill one spot.
"I wanted to do something to spark us," Roberts said after an 0-for-4 day. "Whatever happens, you have to make adjustments. You have to answer the bell. It was unfortunate what happened [on Friday] night."Roberts didn't get much sleep, catching an early flight out of Las Vegas on Saturday after a night game. He hopes that his presence can help fill out the lineup. "The first month of the season, I was dealing with this elbow," he said. "Now I feel 100 times better than before. I expect great things out of myself. It's an offensive unit, and guys have to do the job no matter where they are. We're getting solid pitching. We just have to find ways to win baseball games. We'll be fine." Zito, who pitched magnificently in winning his last three starts, matched his season low of four innings in losing for the first time at home since April 8, a span of five starts. No earned runs in 17 consecutive innings, a three-game winning streak. It was vintage Zito. Then it all came crashing down around him again, just like it did in his start in Oakland. Zito (6-6) lasted four innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits. He walked one and struck out two. "It's frustrating out there when you're getting fly balls and seeing-eye base hits," he said. "It was just weird stuff going on out there. It's certainly not satisfying." His line in two games against his former team: 10 earned runs in eight innings, eight walks, four strikeouts and two losses. His ERA against Oakland is 11.25, compared with 3.29 against the rest of baseball. "Except for [Eric] Chavez's double and Buck's double, they didn't hit that many balls hard," Zito said. "I pitched myself out of the game with all those pitches." And for the eighth time in 13 starts, the Giants provided him with two or fewer runs of support. Give him at least four runs of support, and he wins 95 percent of the time.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.