Barry Zito may have pitched his way into the playoff rotation Thursday as the Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3 behind six solid innings from their starter.
The Giants have now won his past 10 starts, a streak not accomplished since Bill Swift started 11 straight wins in 1992.
For the second start in a row, Zito was backed by a six-run inning, this one off Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin from his offense, as the team batted around in the second inning — highlighted by home runs by Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence.
Zito even joined the party on offense, slapping a one-out single to left and scoring on Scutaro’s long ball.
“That was good,” Zito said of his third hit of the season. “Right on the barrel, just like I planned. Just like Pence’s, but his went a little further. It was nice to get in there and kind of keep the inning going. That was important.”
Manager Bruce Bochy said after the game that Zito has been an important part of the team all year, starting with his complete game victory in Colorado when the Giants were still looking for their first win of the season after starting 0-3.
“It’s been fun to watch how he’s bounced back and really put together a really good year,” Bochy said. “He’s pitched some big games for us and getting wins when we really needed them. ... A great way to end the season here at home to take the series, take the last game, guys played well, hit the long ball, good start by Z.”
Of the six hits allowed by Zito, two were line drives that got over the head of Brandon Belt, playing left field for the third time this season and battling the sun coming over the stands.
Belt reluctantly admitted after the game that he’s more comfortable playing the outfield during night games, when the sun is not a factor, but said he has generally felt comfortable in the outfield.
“I’ve generally felt comfortable out there,” Belt said. “There’s balls that are a little bit tougher for me to handle, especially line drives right at me, but that’s just part of it. I think the more I get out there, the more experience I get the easier it will be.”
Bochy said he likes having Belt as an option in left field, especially with Belt’s bat heating up, a trend that continued as he collected two hits in this game.