Cubs unable to solve Giants’ Barry Zito, who wins No. 150
BY JOSH DUBOW Associated Press June 3, 2012 5:56PM
The Giants' Angel Pagan slides to score past catcher Koyie Hill in the fifth inning Sunday. | Ben Margot~AP
Updated: June 3, 2012 7:37PM
SAN FRANCISCO — Manager Dale Sveum is running out of explanations for his team’s recent rut after the Chicago Cubs were shut down by Barry Zito to waste a stellar start from Travis Wood.
Zito pitched 8 1-3 scoreless innings for his 150th career win and Joaquin Arias snapped an 18 at-bat hitless stretch with an RBI single that led the Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Cubs on Sunday.
“It’s a broken record,” Sveum said. “I don’t know what to say to come up with something different to make it ... Just frustrating. I mean, golly. We hit a few balls good. Other than that it wasn’t a lot of good at-bats going on.”
Angel Pagan scored the game’s first run after doubling to set a Giants record by extending his home hitting streak to 27 games. San Francisco went on to its 12th win in 17 games and moved a season-high six games over .500.
Wood (0-2) was the tough-luck loser, allowing just one run and three hits in seven innings as Chicago fell for the 15th time in 18 games. The Cubs have also lost 10 straight road games for their longest skid away from Wrigley Field since dropping 10 in a row in September 2000.
“Woody was awesome,” Sveum said. “That’s as good as I’ve seen Woody pitch probably even when he was in Cincinnati. The command was down, the command of his curveball. He doubled up on that a few times. Basically he threw the ball wherever he wanted.”
Zito (5-2) was rarely threatened by the struggling Cubs, allowing just four hits and two walks before leaving to a standing ovation after a one-walk to Darwin Barney in the ninth. Sergio Romo finished for his second save.
The Cubs got only one runner as far as second base against Zito when Ian Stewart and Reed Johnson hit one-out singles in the fifth. But Zito escaped that jam with a strikeout-double play with Stewart easily being thrown out at third by Hector Sanchez.
“I know Zito’s had his issues in the past but that didn’t look like the same guy,” Cubs catcher Koyie Hill said. “(Kept) the ball down and was competitive with all of his pitches. It makes it tough on us, especially in a ballpark where it’s not very hitter-friendly to begin with, so it’s a chore.”
After struggling for most of his first five seasons of a $126 million, seven-year contract with the Giants, Zito has been extremely dependable so far this season starting with a shutout his first start at Colorado. He has won four of his past five starts and has lowered his ERA to 2.98 to help make up for the slow start by two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum.
Zito got a standing ovation when he walked off the mound after the eighth inning and then a big cheer when he batted to lead off the bottom of the inning. The fans booed manager Bruce Bochy’s decision to replace Zito with Romo after 96 pitches.
“Your heart is telling you give him a shot but your brain is telling you the right thing to do is to go get him,” Bochy said.
The Giants were held hitless until Pagan drove a ball over left fielder Alfonso Soriano’s head for a one-out double in the fifth. That hit broke the Giants’ home hitting streak record of 26 games set by Mike Donlin in 1905-06, the Giants said citing the Elias Sports Bureau. Wood then struck out Sanchez before Arias followed with a single to shallow right for his first hit since last Monday.
Third-base coach Tim Flannery aggressively waved Pagan home and he slid in safely ahead of Johnson’s one-hop throw that catcher Koyie Hill could not handle to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.
“It was pretty textbook to be honest with you,” Hill said. “I don’t know that I would have done anything different. I went to cover up the ball with my bare hand like you’re taught to do and the ball just popped out of the end. Just one of those things. Priority number one is to catch the ball, and it didn’t happen.”
The Giants added a run in the eighth when Gregor Blanco scored from first on Cabrera’s hit-and-run single to left. Soriano threw to second on the play and Blanco never stopped running to score.
NOTES: Sanchez stayed in the game despite fouling successive pitches off his left leg in the seventh inning. ... The Cubs fell to 2-11 this season against lefty starters. ... The Giants go for the four-game sweep Monday when Ryan Vogelsong (3-2) takes on Jeff Samardzija (5-3).