While Barry Zito has struggled recently at home, he may have the ideal opponent and batterymate to end those woes Sunday when the San Francisco Giants wrap up a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies .
The left-hander is on the verge of his first 10-win season since 2009, but he has lost three consecutive starts at AT&T Park and has a 10.24 ERA in the last two. Zito (9-8, 4.19 ERA), though, has momentum and history on his side.
He did not walk a batter Tuesday for the first time since his season debut four months ago, limiting St. Louis to two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-2 win.
"He pitched a great game," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He gave up a couple of home runs ... but he didn't let that faze him at all."
Facing the Rockies usually hasn't fazed Zito, either. He tossed a four-hit shutout at Coors Field on April 9 and improved to 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 18 lifetime appearances against them - the last loss came in 2008. At home versus Colorado, Zito is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in eight starts, striking out 50 in 59 1-3 innings.
Zito could get help in extending his mastery of the Rockies from catcher Buster Posey , who is likely to start again for the Giants (62-52) after pinch hitting in the series opener. Posey hit a two-run homer in Saturday's 9-3 win, and he's batting .444 with six homers and 14 RBIs in 10 games this month.
"I'm comfortable hitting here and see the ball well," said Posey, hitting .443 with nine homers and 32 RBIs since the All-Star break. "The park is big but all the gaps are big, too."
Posey is 13 for 33 with three home runs versus the Rockies this season.
Despite Saturday's loss, Colorado (41-70) still has a chance to post a winning record on its six-game road swing against the top two teams in the NL West after taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers .
To enhance those chances, the Rockies may need Alex White (2-6, 5.75) to overcome the control issues that have plagued him this season. On Tuesday, the right-hander exited after four shutout innings against the Dodgers in an eventual 3-1 victory because he walked five and quickly reached his pitch limit as part of Colorado's four-man rotation.
"We know what we've got. We've got 75 pitches, and our job is to get as far as we can," said White, who has issued at least four walks in four of his past seven starts.
Drew Pomeranz also pitched only four innings Saturday, the major-league leading 33rd time a Rockies starter has lasted four or fewer.
White was hit hard by the Giants in losing his only two career starts against them in an 11-day span last September, getting tagged for nine runs and 15 hits in 9 2-3 innings.
Carlos Gonzalez , in an 0-for-11 slump over his last four games, is one of the few Rockies to have some success against Zito, going 8 for 23 with a triple and a home run.
Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler is questionable for this game due to back spasms that prevented him from playing Saturday.
|August 06, 2012||Todd Helton||60-Day DL||Torn labrum, right hip|
|August 06, 2012||Edgmer Escalona||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|August 04, 2012||Jonathan Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left biceps tendinitis|
|August 01, 2012||Todd Helton||Day-to-Day||Flu|
|August 01, 2012||Michael Cuddyer||Day-to-Day||Sore oblique|
|August 01, 2012||Dexter Fowler||Day-to-Day||Flu-like symptoms|
|San Francisco Giants|
|August 07, 2012||Shane Loux||15-Day DL||Recurring neck strain|
|July 31, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Strained right knee|
|July 25, 2012||Pablo Sandoval||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|July 18, 2012||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 18, 2012||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 17, 2012||Hector Sanchez||Day-to-Day||Left knee sprain|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Hunter Pence came through in a big way, erasing a slow start with his new team with one swing of the bat.
Pence hit a three-run homer during a five-run rally in the eighth inning that lifted the San Francisco Giants over the Colorado Rockies 9-6 on Sunday.
"He hit the ball hard the one time that was turned into a double play," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That three-run homer makes up for a few mistakes we made."
Buster Posey 's sacrifice fly in the eighth tied it. Melky Cabrera , who had an RBI single in the comeback, drove in three runs.
Brandon Belt doubled twice and went 4 for 4 for the Giants.
"A lot of stuff was going wrong for us but it didn't matter," Belt said. "That home run came at a great time."
Matt Belisle (3-4) took the loss after allowing the first three hitters he faced to reach base. Rafael Betancourt gave up Posey's deep fly to left and Pence's drive into the left-field bleachers.
Clay Hensley (4-3) pitched the eighth for the win.
Eric Young had three hits and drove in a run for the Rockies, who have lost three of four. Starting pitcher Alex White and reliever Carlos Torres also drove in runs.
"We did everything we could to try and win that game," Rockies' manager Jim Tracy said. "We played with heart and we played with energy. The key to the whole eighth inning is when the leadoff pop up fell. I really believe that if we record that out, that inning was going to go cleanly. I believe that. We opened the door for them."
Giants starter Barry Zito lasted 5 1-3 innings, giving up four runs and seven hits. White allowed three runs and seven hits in four innings.
"We just made a mistake in the first inning," White said. "I just wanted to keep us in the game."
The Giants trailed 6-4 when Brandon Crawford singled, pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez doubled and Angel Pagan walked to open the eighth. After Belisle got Marco Scutaro on a short fly to left, Cabrera delivered an infield single to score a run.
Betancourt came in to face Posey, who fouled off five consecutive pitches before the sacrifice fly. Pence, hitting .137 as a Giant, then hit his 18th home run.
"That was big," Posey said. "He's been working hard and it was nice to see him come through."
Torres delivered a two-out single, his first career hit, to highlight a two-run rally in the sixth that put the Rockies ahead 5-4. D.J. LeMahieu doubled home run a batter earlier.
Cabrera's two-run single in the first gave the Giants the early lead. Belt also singled home a run in the inning.
Young and Josh Rutledge each doubled home a run in the third and White's sacrifice fly in the fourth tied it at 3.
Ryan Theriot 's double put the Giants back on top in the fifth, setting up Torres' hit in the sixth.
NOTES: White recorded his first career RBI. ... The Giants expect INF Pablo Sandoval to be available Monday night against the Washington Nationals after playing in his third rehab game at Class-A San Jose. ... RHP Ryan Vogelsong (10-5, 2.27) goes for the Giants against the Nationals. He leads the NL in ERA. ... LHP Jeff Francis (3-4, 6.06) pitches for the Rockies against the Milwaukee Brewers .