Barry Zito’s impressive start to the season is quickly fading in the Giants’ rear-view mirror.
The 34-year-old left-hander had his worst start of the season on Tuesday, allowing a season-high eight earned runs in just 3¹⁄³ innings of the Giants’ 12-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on the road.
Since lowering his ERA to 2.98 after 8¹⁄³ shutout innings against the Cubs on June 3, Zito has seen it balloon to 4.35 after his past three starts, where he has allowed 17 runs in 14¹⁄³ innings.
The damage began quickly on Tuesday, when Albert Pujols opened the game’s scoring with a line-drive, three-run homer to left-center field in the first inning. Zito allowed the first five Angels batters to reach base and the first four scored to give Los Angeles (37-32) an immediate 4-0 lead.
Zito was then chased from the game in the fourth inning, when he loaded the bases with one out after a walk to Pujols, who also drove in a run with a single in the second and had four RBIs, tying his season high.
Giants reliever George Kontos then allowed all three inherited runs to score on a bases-clearing triple by Mark Trumbo to give the Angels a 8-1 lead. Trumbo singled in two more runs in the ninth inning to give the Angels a 12-5 lead.
Pujols also made a significant impact with his glove in a crucial seventh inning.
The Giants (38-31) trailed 9-3 when Melky Cabrera chased Angels starter C.J. Wilson from the game with a single that loaded the bases with one out in the seventh.
Reliever LaTroy Hawkins allowed an inherited runner to score on a RBI single by Buster Posey, then Angel Pagan hit a hard ground ball that appeared to destined for the right-field corner, but Pujols dove to his left, scooped the ball up and made the unassisted out. On the next play, Pablo Sandoval lined a ball to Pujols’ right and the first baseman lept to snag the ball in the air.
The Giants were only outhit 14-13 by the Angels, but stranded nine baserunners and went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Cabrera extended his hitting streak to five games and raised his average to .369 with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate. He reached third base twice, but was never driven in.
The 12 runs for the Angels were a season high and left fielder Mike Trout scored a career-high four runs and tied his career high with four hits.
NOTES: Melky Cabrera moved past Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers to take over the third starting outfield spot behind the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp and the St. Louis Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran this week in the latest update of All-Star voting released Tuesday. Buster Posey is the leading vote-getter at catcher. ... Zito came in at No. 76 on the Forbes Magazine list of the 100 top paid athletes after having made $18.9 million this past year.