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Zito can't find groove against Cubs

Zito can't find groove against Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Barry Zito who silenced the Indians five days ago in Cleveland was not the same Zito the Giants sent to the mound Monday night against the Cubs at AT&T Park.

Zito (3-12) had the same stuff that led him to his third victory a week ago in a game in which he pitched a season-high 6 2/3 innings, but his command was nowhere to be found. The lefty surrendered five walks and fell victim to a crucial error, and the Cubs capitalized to take the first game of the four-game set, 9-2.

For Zito, it was a frustrating night in which he showed glimpses of his former self and the inconsistency that has plagued him this season. After allowing no walks in his previous outing, Zito surrendered five Monday, two of which resulted in runs.

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"There's no excuse; I had good stuff out there tonight," Zito said. "It's tough for me because I'm starting to feel more like myself out there. I just kind of slipped in and out. I need to find that consistency."

It wasn't all Zito's fault. The lefty was hurt by a crucial error in the second inning that led to a run. After giving up a leadoff walk to Jim Edmonds, Zito appeared to induce an inning-ending double play, but the sharp grounder off the bat of Ronny Cedeno went by Jose Castillo at third, putting runners on first and second with one out. Then after Zito struck out Lilly, Kosuke Fukudome singled, plating Edmonds.

Zito surrendered two more runs in the third inning on a two-out double off the bat of Matt Murton, scoring Geovany Soto and Mark DeRosa. In the fifth inning, DeRosa -- who would also hit a grand slam in the eighth inning off Billy Sadler -- drilled a Zito offering into the bleachers in left-center field for a two-run homer.

"We had some bad luck out there. We've been doing such a good job defensively, but we just made a really tough error at a bad time," said manager Bruce Bochy. "It could've been a different ballgame without that error. I think [Zito] got out of sync there for a couple of hitters, but overall I thought his stuff was there."

Zito managed five innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits while striking out a season-high six batters.

"I'm encouraged with my stuff, but I'm just not getting the results I want," Zito said. "I'm pumped up to get back out there on Saturday and get this thing turned around."

Even if Zito would've pitched a gem, the Giants would've been hard-pressed to pull out a victory against Cubs starter Ted Lilly, who was in control for eight innings. Lilly baffled the Giants' hitters with a steady diet of offspeed pitches and pinpoint fastballs.

Lilly went eight-plus innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out five in the game. The two runs he allowed came in the ninth inning when he was pulled in favor of Kerry Wood after surrendering back-to-back singles to start the inning.

With Lilly on the bench, Rich Aurilia knocked in two runs with a double that cleared the outstretched glove of Edmonds in center field, putting a dent on Lilly's line.

"Lilly pitched great; you have to give him credit," Bochy said. "He mixed up his pitches and pitched very well tonight."

The Giants' home struggles continue to linger. With the loss, the Giants have now dropped 15 of their last 18 games at AT&T Park and have won one of their last six.

In addition, Zito is 0-8 at home and the Giants are scheduled to play 16 of their next 22 games at home.

When asked about his team's struggles at home, Bochy seemed a bit peeved.

"I don't think we need to talk about it and we are done talking about any struggles here at home," Bochy said. "We'll be fine here. We just got to start executing a little better and obviously get these bats going. But it's nothing to do with being here at home."

Jayson Addcox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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