SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Barry Zitowalked two batters to start the game and it looked as though he might be in for a long day.
Instead, Zito buckled down and produced one of his best outings of the season.
The $126 million left-hander carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, Randy Winn singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh and the San Francisco Giants took advantage of another Texas mistake for a 3-2 victory over the Rangers on Sunday and a series sweep.
Booed one moment and cheered the next, Zito has become accustomed to varying treatment during two-plus subpar seasons with San Francisco. He thinks he’s back on track, though, and that’s what matters to him.
“Let them react the way they want,” Zito said. “It doesn’t affect what I’m doing.”
Zito (4-7) didn’t allow a hit until Andruw Jones’ two-run homer with none out in the seventh, a line drive that stayed just fair inside the left-field foul pole. Giants manager Bruce Bochy came out to discuss the call with the umpires. Zito had walked Michael Young on four pitches to start the inning.
“I had better command of my stuff the last three or four innings,” Zito said. “The changeup I threw to Andruw, he jumped on it. You’ve got to tip your hat to him.”
Pablo Sandoval hit a pair of doubles in San Francisco’s seventh straight win over Texas dating to 2001 and 11th in a row in the Giants’ waterfront ballpark.
Zito outpitched Kevin Millwood (7-5) to win for the third time in four outings following a four-start losing streak. Zito struck out the side in order in the fifth, getting a called third strike against Chris Davis to end it. Davis, who on Saturday became the fastest player in major league history to reach 100 strikeouts (in 219 at-bats), flipped his bat in frustration and threw his helmet to the ground in disgust.
Zito robbed Elvis Andrus of a hit in the sixth, lunging to his right for the ball and making a quick turn to throw to first. He struck out a season-high eight and walked four in seven innings. The only other hit he allowed was a single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
“It wasn’t an auspicious start for him,” Bochy said. “He just kept at it and got into a groove.”
Brian Wilson tossed a 1-2-3 ninth on eight pitches for his 19th save in 22 chances.
The Rangers lost on a wild pitch in the 11th inning Saturday night, then a costly error affected Sunday’s outcome. In the third inning, Texas shortstop Andrus retired Sandoval at second on Travis Ishikawa’s grounder but his wild relay throw to first trying for the double play wound up in the Giants’ dugout and allowed Winn to score.
Texas skipper Ron Washington knows these are the kinds of things the Rangers must weather with a rookie-filled roster—though that doesn’t make it any easier for him to watch.
“We didn’t do much offensively,” Washington said. “That being said, our defense let us down today. Millwood deserved a better fate than that.”
The Rangers have lost four straight—all to National League teams—for their longest interleague losing streak since a five-game skid from June 24-29, 2006. Texas’ AL West lead over Los Angeles had been trimmed by four games over the previous eight days, with the Angels playing Sunday night against the Dodgers.
Millwood struck out 10 in seven innings, the 13th time in his career he’s reached double digits and the first since June 17, 2007, at Cincinnati.
“We just got outplayed,” Millwood said. “It seems like we’re in a little funk right now.”
Zito has faced Texas more than any other club during his career—and is 18-5 lifetime against the Rangers, his most wins against any opponent.