PITTSBURGH (AP) -- His seventh start was much better than the previous six, even if Barry Zito still hasn't erased that zero in his record. Eight years after breaking into pro ball, Phil Dumatrait finally got rid of his.
Xavier Nady hit a two-run homer to spoil Zito's mostly effective return to the Giants rotation and Dumatrait pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings for his first career win, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-1 victory Wednesday night.
• The last pitcher to lose his first seven starts of a season was
Josh Towers for Toronto in in 2006. He finished 5-10.
• The last Giants pitcher to lose his first seven starts of a season was
Bill Clarkson in 1927. He finished 3-9.
• Barry Zito is the first former 20-game winner to lose the first seven starts of a season.
-- ESPN Research
Zito (0-7), roughed up in each of his first six starts, was much sharper after spending 10 days working out his problems in the bullpen, yet couldn't beat a pitcher who hadn't won in 17 previous career appearances.Zito, at least temporarily the majors' most expensive reliever only two seasons into his $126 million, seven-year contract, started with three scoreless innings. Then Jason Bay singled and Nady hit the first pitch he saw in the fourth into the left-field seats. Nady's fifth homer gave him the NL lead with 34 RBIs, four in the first two games of the three-game series."He hit a good pitch, a first pitch changeup. I'm upset about Bay getting the hit he did on a 3-1 changeup," Zito said. "I wish I had that one back. That was basically the difference right there."Zito's pitching line of five innings, three hits, two runs, two walks and five strikeouts was easily his best of the season, and he threw 58 of 99 pitches for strikes. His last time out he allowed eight runs and seven hits in three innings in a 10-1 loss to the Reds on April 27.The left-hander moved into the bullpen after that but never pitched in relief and, essentially, was skipped over for a start in an attempt to get him untracked."It was time to refocus," said Zito, who hadn't previously missed a start since breaking into the majors with Oakland in 2000. "I think it helped me in that aspect. I felt good out there and I'm excited to get back out there in five days."Despite Zito's encouraging start -- he repeatedly had the Pirates out in front of pitches -- he is the first Giants pitcher to lose his first seven decisions since reliever Rod Beck was 0-9 in 1996.Only the third starting pitcher since 1956 to go 0-6 before May, Zito had not previously pitched in a game this season in which the opposition didn't score at least four runs."He used all his pitches, I thought he was more aggressive with all his pitches," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He did what we wanted him to, give us a chance to win. The bats were just quiet tonight. ... He pitches like that, we'll get him some wins."Dumatrait (1-1), whose 0-5 career record coming in nearly matched Zito's season record, finally got his first victory eight years after being the Red Sox's first-round draft pick in 2000.Pittsburgh claimed Dumatrait on waivers after he was 0-4 with a 15.00 ERA in six starts with Cincinnati last season."It's unbelievable," Dumatrait said. "As long as I live, I'll never forget this moment. After I was drafted, the goal was to get to the major leagues and I accomplished that. Then it was about getting the first win, and now I hope it's the first of many."Dumatrait, one of four left-handers in Pittsburgh's rotation, struck out five, walked one and allowed five hits before leaving with a runner on second and two out in the sixth. Dumatrait has given up one run over 9 2-3 innings in two starts since replacing the released Matt Morris in the rotation."I thought he was great," manager John Russell said.Tyler Yates came on to get the next four outs before Damaso Marte struck out the side during a scoreless eighth inning. Matt Capps couldn't complete the shutout, giving up Bengie Molina's RBI single in the ninth before getting his seventh save in as many opportunities.The Pirates won consecutive games for the first times since April 22-23 and have won 12 of 14 from the Giants. Pittsburgh had lost 13 of 18 overall before the series began.
Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth went 1-for-3 with a triple after homering twice in each of his previous two home games and hitting five homers in his previous three at home. ... McLouth, normally the Pirates' leadoff hitter, batted third for the third time this season. On Tuesday, he hit second for the first time. ... The Giants have lost four of five on a road trip to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that ends Thursday.