SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Giants had considered skipping Noah Lowry's next turn, and then he threw a much-needed gem.
Lowry ended a six-start winless stretch with seven sharp innings and Moises Alou hit a two-run homer, leading the San Francisco Giants past the Oakland Athletics 3-1 on Sunday night.The left-hander in his first full major-league season was so fed up with himself after his last lousy start that he forced himself to clear his mind and just pitch. He also worked both sides of the plate with his fastball, making his nasty changeup all the more effective."It was a big win for the team and a huge win for me," said Lowry, who received dozens of phone calls from friends offering advice on how to work out of the funk. "It's been long awaited. ... I try not to put extra pressure on myself and take the same
approach every start. This past month has been a learning experience."San Francisco won two of three in the season's first Bay Bridge Series, the first series the Giants have won since sweeping Pittsburgh on the road April 29-May 1. They had lost four series since then and split a four-game set at Houston.Lowry (2-5) lost his previous five decisions and hadn't won since April 15 at Colorado. He calmly worked out of a fourth-inning jam and then retired eight of his final nine batters. The Giants were also helped by three double plays."Lowry, I guess, can pitch again," manager Felipe Alou said with a smile. "That was a big improvement from his last few starts. He threw strikes and made the pitches he wanted to make to get out of trouble."After Mark Kotsay walked to start the eighth, Scott Munter relieved Lowry and got pinch-hitter Matt Watson to ground into a double play. Jason Kendall singled before Jason Christiansen entered to face Eric Chavez, who fouled out.Tyler Walker worked the ninth for his sixth save in seven chances and fifth since May 12. He received an insurance run when A's second baseman Keith Ginter committed two fielding errors in the eighth that allowed Jason Ellison to score.Moises Alou, brought to the Giants in the offseason in large part because of his success with runners in scoring position, connected for his fifth homer in the sixth against Barry Zito (1-5).This pitching matchup featured two frustrated left-handers desperate to return to their old form. Both looked great, but Zito made the one costly mistake to Alou. Then the defense failed him."I thought I pitched pretty well," Zito said. "I don't worry about the lack of support. I just focus on the process. I wish I had the changeup back to Alou. I did my demoralizing last year."Zito made some mechanical changes between starts, focusing on standing up straight and not hunching over."It was his best game of the year," A's manager Ken Macha said. "He made two mistakes -- changeups to Alou and the pitcher. We need to stop walking people and tighten our defense. That's been our problem. And power is something we're lacking."Lowry allowed one run and seven hits, struck out four and walked two.Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner, was trying to bounce back after allowing a career-high seven walks in Oakland's 7-5 loss to Boston last Tuesday.He retired 10 of his first 12 batters, allowing Lance Niekro's
first-inning double and a double to Lowry in the third. He got through four innings in 46 pitches -- a dramatic difference from his five-inning, 115-pitch performance five days earlier.Bobby Kielty had two hits with an RBI double, and Kendall had three hits and scored a run for the A's after going 0-for-9 in the first two games of the series.Oakland has lost four of five series, taking two of three games from the World Series champion Red Sox earlier in the week.Eric Byrnes struck out to start the fourth and then Lowry ran into trouble. Kendall and Chavez hit back-to-back singles before Kielty doubled to left for a 1-0 lead. Erubiel Durazo lined out to third, and Ginter walked before Marco Scutaro grounded out to Lowry to end the threat.Kielty has a nine-game hitting streak, the longest by the A's this year. Nine of his 17 RBI have either tied the game or put the A's ahead.The teams play again June 24-26 in Oakland.
Giants second baseman Ray Durham was a late scratch after he sprained his left middle finger during batting practice. He could play Tuesday against Los Angeles. "It's good. I'll be ready Tuesday," Durham said. ... Deivi Cruz started in place of Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel, who has a .154 (2-for-13) average against Zito. ... Barry Bonds' bobblehead doll was being sold on special for $12 rather than the regular price of $20. The slugger hasn't played all year following three operations on his right knee. ... The Giants sold out for the fifth time this year (42,452), and the three-game series drew 128,222 -- establishing an attendance record for a three-game set at SBC Park. It surpassed the 127,759 fans for the Cubs series last Aug. 6-8.