Barry Zito’s curveball baffles Mariners hitters in win 

click to enlarge Barry Zito looked as if he hadn’t skipped a beat since the 2012 postseason on Tuesday, fanning seven batters in a spring start. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images File Photo
  • Barry Zito looked as if he hadn’t skipped a beat since the 2012 postseason on Tuesday, fanning seven batters in a spring start.

PEORIA, ARIZ. — Left-hander Barry Zito ended his 2012 campaign with a flourish, coming up with two monumental starts that were instrumental in the Giants’ second World Series title in three years.

The Giants’ hope of Zito taking that confidence into the 2013 season seems more likely by the outing. In Tuesday’s 6-3 spring loss to the Seattle Mariners, Zito struck out seven in five innings of work, at times making sluggers Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse look foolish.

In the first inning after allowing the first two batters to reach base, he whiffed Seattle’s 3-4-5 hitters in order to work out of the jam. Zito allowed two earned runs on five hits on ?84 pitches.

Zito, who exited the game after allowing two earned runs, started the contest with the goal of honing in his curveball and went to it often.

“I definitely wanted to get the curveball in the game. I just haven’t thrown it a whole lot through my sequences in spring,” said Zito, who needed seven innings to have a season-high seven strikeouts against the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012. “I really wanted to get a feel for it this game so we were kind of overdoing it on the curveball.”

A year ago, Zito was tweaking his mechanics through spring training before he scrapped it all right before the start of the season.

“Certainly my confidence is higher this year, but it’s also a factor of focusing more on making pitches and not so much on the mechanics,” he said.

Brandon Belt continued his hot hitting for the Giants this spring, going 2-for-3 with a double that was just short of clearing the fence in center field and an RBI. Belt is leading the team in hitting at .420 and has four homers and 12 RBIs in 16 games.

Coming home: After the Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico on Tuesday at AT&T Park, the Giants are slated to get back their two remaining players who were participating in the World Baseball Classic.

Right-hander Santiago Casilla and center fielder Angel Pagan are likely to return to camp by the end of the week.

Splitsville: The Giants have just nine Cactus League games remaining before they head back to the Bay Area to take on the A’s in three additional exhibition games March 28 through March 30. Today, the Giants compete in two 1:05 p.m. split-squad games as Ryan Vogelsong will make his first spring start since returning from World Baseball Classic play against Milwaukee Brewers lefty Chris Narveson in Scottsdale. Additionally, the Giants’ Chad Gaudin is set to take on Jason Marquis and the San Diego Padres in Peoria.

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Curtis Steudeman

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