As bad as things are going, they could be poised to turn things around in Monday night's series opener given the way Barry Zito has been pitching.
The NL West-leading Dodgers (43-30) have dropped five of the first six contests on their road trip and are just three games up on archrival San Francisco. A sluggish offense that's averaged 2.14 runs and hit .194 in the last seven games has been the biggest culprit, and it seems to be at its worst when Eovaldi (0-3, 2.35 ERA) is on the mound.
Eovaldi has given his team a chance to win all five of his starts, allowing three runs or fewer in each, but Los Angeles has lost them all while backing the rookie right-hander with three total runs of support.
"I know they'll score runs for me," he told the Dodgers' website after allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings in Wednesday's 4-1 loss at Oakland.
That could be the case Monday against Zito (5-5, 4.35), who is mired in anther disastrous stretch for the Giants (40-33).
After opening 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA, the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner has been shelled for 17 runs and 23 hits over 14 1-3 innings in losing his last three starts."Barry's had a tough go here the last three, but you have to keep pressing on," manager Bruce Bochy said after the left-hander was tagged for eight runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 12-5 loss to the Angels. "That's all you can do."
Zito has pitched well against the Dodgers over the past few seasons, but he hasn't received much help from his offense. Since last beating the Dodgers on May 8, 2009, Zito is 0-4 with 2.92 ERA in eight starts, with the Giants plating nine runs for him. San Francisco has lost seven of those games.
The Giants, who were 7 1/2 games back of the Dodgers on May 27, could have pulled within two of first place had they been able to complete a sweep of the Athletics on Sunday. Leading with two outs in the ninth inning, Santiago Casilla served up a three-run homer to Derek Norris as Oakland handed San Francisco a 4-2 defeat, spoiling Matt Cain 's bid for a ninth straight win.
"To get walked-off by anyone, it's not a good feeling," Cain said.
The Giants, who totaled 14 runs in their first two games against the A's, were limited to five hits Sunday and Brandon Belt went 0 for 3, ending a career-high 11-game hitting streak. He hit .441 with four homers, 12 RBIs and a .568 on-base percentage during his run.
Los Angeles' Andre Ethier showed signs that he's emerging from his slump by going 6 for 11 over the weekend after batting .171 in his first 19 June games, but he could have trouble in the opener. He is hitting .182 with seven strikeouts and seven walks in 33 career at-bats against Zito, and is batting .061 (2 for 33) against lefties in his last 16 games.
|Tony Gwynn Jr.||2||.000||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000|
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||22||.364||8||1||1||6||2||.517||1.153||.636|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|June 03, 2012||Javy Guerra||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|May 31, 2012||Matt Kemp||15-Day DL||Re-aggravated strained left hamstring|
|May 30, 2012||Matt Kemp||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|May 24, 2012||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Left shoulder inflammation|
|May 23, 2012||Justin Sellers||15-Day DL||Bulging disc in lower back|
|May 19, 2012||Mark Ellis||15-Day DL||Sprained left knee|
|San Francisco Giants|
|June 14, 2012||Aubrey Huff||Day-to-Day||Sprained right knee|
|June 11, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|June 07, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right hamstring|
|June 02, 2012||Santiago Casilla||Day-to-Day||Bruised knee|
|May 16, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left toe|
|May 16, 2012||Joaquin Arias||Day-to-Day||Left forearm contusion|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A month ago, the Giants trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers by a season-high 7 1/2 games, and Melky Cabrera almost singlehandedly produced the offense.
Suddenly, San Francisco is right back in the chase, and well before the All-Star break.
Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run double and sacrifice fly to help Barry Zito end a three-start losing streak, and the Giants beat NL West-leading Los Angeles 8-0 on Monday night.
Angel Pagan and Hector Sanchez each drove in two runs as the Giants pulled within two games of the Dodgers for their closest position to first place in the division race since April 7.
"Considering where we were, it's good to be in this situation," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's so much baseball left, and you're where you want to be, which is right in the middle of things. Even at this stage of the season it's important. You don't want to be too far back."
Zito (6-5), who had allowed 17 runs in 14 1-3 innings for a 10.67 ERA during the skid, defeated the Dodgers for the first time in 10 appearances and nine starts. He was 0-4 since his last win in the rivalry on May 8, 2009.
It didn't start well when he walked leadoff batter Dee Gordon on five pitches. But Elian Herrera grounded into a double play, and Andre Ethier also grounded out as the left-hander escaped unscathed.
The Dodgers are 0-for the Bay Area so far after they got swept at Oakland last week. This is their first trip to AT&T Park in 2012.
"Everybody's building this series up like it's a big deal," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "For us, it's one game. It's a long season, a long grind. We play these guys a lot more throughout the year. Talk to me about the series in August or September and I'll talk about if it's a big series or not."
Cabrera, coming off consecutive hitless games for just the third time this year, singled in each of his first two at-bats, had an RBI and scored two runs as the Giants gave Zito plenty of support.
San Francisco emphatically took the opener to win the first game of a series for the 10th time in its last 12. The Giants have also won 11 of their last 16 versus Los Angeles in their waterfront ballpark.
An impressive way to kick off a challenging stretch with three straight series against clubs that began the week in first place - also Cincinnati and Washington.
"It's big," Zito said. "They're pretty banged up over there and we've got to capitalize on that."
Pagan staked Zito to a quick lead with an RBI double against winless Dodgers rookie Nathan Eovaldi aided by a nice bounce off first base. San Francisco got four straight one-out hits off Eovaldi in its four-run first - and the chants of "Beat L.A.!" from the sellout crowd of 42,164 began. Sanchez added an RBI single in the inning, prompting a mound visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt .
It marked San Francisco's biggest first inning this season. Sanchez doubled in a run in the fifth.
"That's one of those games where you sit there and everything kind of goes their way," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Zito allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings, struck out four and walked three. Two relievers completed the five-hit shutout, San Francisco's seventh. Los Angeles was blanked for the fourth time and second in seven games.
Eovaldi (0-4) was tagged for a season-high eight runs and 10 hits, stretching his winless stretch to 11 starts since a victory in his major league debut last Aug. 6 at Arizona. The 22-year-old right-hander, making his 12th career start, struck out one and walked one in five innings.
"It's a good experience for him. He's going to be fine," Mattingly said. "He's not the kind of kid who's going to get rattled over that."
Eovaldi retired nine in a row starting with Sandoval's second-inning sacrifice fly before the Giants slugger doubled off the right-field wall in the fifth. Sandoval spent some extra time studying and chatting with hitting coach Hensley Meulens beforehand.
"The last couple days for me were tough. I was swinging too hard," Sandoval said.
Bochy sat catcher Buster Posey to rest his tender ankle and went with Zito's regular backstop, Sanchez. That means Posey is likely to catch Tim Lincecum in Wednesday afternoon's series finale as the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner (2-8) looks for his first win in 11 starts since winning at San Diego on April 28.
Notes: RHP Brad Penny , signed to a minor league contract May 18, is nearing a promotion as he prepares for his second stint in San Francisco by pitching for Triple-A Fresno. Bochy said the Giants might stretch him out so he's available for a spot start or long relief. "We signed him to come up and help us," Bochy said. "We'd like to stretch him a little bit and keep our options open."... Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, formerly a Giants assistant GM, on San Francisco: "It's become a great baseball city." ... Aubrey Huff , on the Giants' DL since June 15 after he sprained his right knee jumping the dugout rail to celebrate Matt Cain 's June 13 perfect game, is close to being able to return. Bochy would like him to do a rehab assignment considering he has missed so much time this season after also spending a stint on the DL with anxiety disorder. ... Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner LHP Clayton Kershaw (5-3) pitches Tuesday night's middle game against Ryan Vogelsong (6-3).