Without historical context, Zito's pitching line looked ugly. He allowed all of Oakland's runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. His career record against his former team is 0-4 with an 8.85 ERA in four starts. The A's remain the only existing Major League franchise he has not defeated.
But Zito's outing sparkled compared to 2007, when he was adjusting to life away from the A's and under the glare that his seven-year, $126 million Giants contract cast upon him. On May 18 of that year, Zito worked four shaky innings here and surrendered seven runs and six hits while walking seven in a 15-3 Giants loss.
"Today was a lot different than it was three years ago," said Zito (6-2). "It was just like any other game, pretty much. I didn't know how it was going to be coming out, but it was like any other park. I didn't have a lot of the thoughts going on my head that I did back in '07, like 'It's weird on this side of the field' and all that stuff."
This also marked Zito's first time to last at least six innings against the A's. He walked one batter -- a welcome development for the Giants, who issued 29 free passes in the previous four games.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy agreed that Zito's statistics didn't match his performance.
"He pitched better than what the numbers show," Bochy said. "He had some bad luck in that one inning. They placed the ball just right. I thought his stuff was actually pretty good tonight."
That unlucky inning Bochy cited was the third, which began with Adam Rosales' solid single to center field. He advanced to third base on Cliff Pennington's double, a pop fly that landed in shallow right field down the line. Rajai Davis drove them in with another double that landed about 20 feet behind first base. Davis scored on Coco Crisp's sacrifice fly.
"We didn't exactly crush the ball against him," A's manager Bob Geren said of Zito.
Zito's reaction to the A's good fortune was simple.
"You just can't do anything about it," he said. "... I definitely felt better than the results. Sometimes that happens."
The left-hander didn't entirely shrug off his effort, however.
"I definitely have adjustments to make," Zito said. "I'm not content at all. I just have to stay low and keep grinding."
Oakland added a sixth-inning run on Daric Barton's leadoff double and Ryan Sweeney's RBI single. The A's chased Zito in the seventh as Davis hit a sacrifice fly and Crisp launched an RBI double.
Meanwhile, the Giants went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, dropping their batting average in such situations to .169 (10-for-59) over the last six games. They wasted Andres Torres' third-inning leadoff double, singles by Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff to open the fourth inning and Freddy Sanchez's hustling one-out double in the sixth. Sandoval and Huff singled back-to-back again in the eighth, but by then there were already two out.
After being blanked for six innings on four hits by A's starter Trevor Cahill (2-2), the Giants scored their lone run in the seventh on John Bowker's two-out infield single and Torres' RBI double.
"You have to get the hit when you need them and we were missing it," Bochy said. "We created some pretty good opportunities and we didn't execute well -- didn't get guys over, things like that."
Bochy lamented the disappearance of shortstop Juan Uribe, who left after two innings with tightness in his left hamstring.
"That was tough," Bochy said.
The next time Uribe's would-be turn at bat arrived, the Giants had runners on first and second with one out. But instead of having their RBI leader at the plate, the Giants sent up Uribe's replacement, Ryan Rohlinger, who grounded into a double play.