SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The roles are reversed in the NL West this September. The defending champion Arizona Diamondbacks are playing out the string as San Francisco prepares for the playoffs.
The D-backs went 0-for Barry Zito this season.
Zito delivered another impressive victory, while midseason acquisitions Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro each hit a two-run homer in the NL West champion Giants’ 7-3 victory Thursday in their regular-season home finale.
Arizona hasn’t beaten Zito in his last six starts in the series. Now, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is considering Zito for a playoff start.
“We’re not the only guys,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “I give him credit. He’s come a long ways from where he was a couple years ago. I give the guy credit for sticking with him. I’m sure that Boch feels pretty good and secure that he’ll do well for them in the playoffs.”
Zito (14-8) won his fourth straight start and sixth consecutive decision since a loss on Aug. 2. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with Oakland has his most wins since joining the Giants on a $126 million, seven-year contract before the 2007 season.
The Giants won their 10th straight game started by Zito, left off the roster for all three postseason rounds two years ago.
“I’ll just keep going out there and doing my best, and good things will happen,” Zito said.
Buster Posey had a pair of singles and took over the lead in the race for the NL batting title at .333. Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, who was injured and left a game against the Mets, is at .332.
Scutaro’s seventh homer extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games, while Pence connected for his 22nd against Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin.
Scutaro was acquired from the Colorado Rockies on July 27 and Pence came over from the Phillies three days later — and both have provided a big boost in the absence of suspended All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera. They have combined for 80 RBIs since joining the Giants.
Earlier in the day, the Giants made it official: They won’t bring back Cabrera at all during the postseason. His penalty for a positive testosterone test covers the final 45 regular-season games and five in the playoffs if the Giants last that long, or into next season.
Cabrera is hitting .346 but will fall one plate appearance short of qualifying for the batting title after the rule was recently changed by Major League Baseball and the players’ union at his request.
“When Melky was suspended, that was a huge blow to everyone, everyone in San Francisco, and certainly everyone in this clubhouse,” Zito said. “We knew that we were going to have to pick it up.”
Hector Sanchez hit his first career homer at AT&T Park with a solo shot in the eighth. He also added an RBI double and scored on a passed ball in the six-run second. San Francisco matched its season high for runs in an inning, also done Sept. 20 against Colorado.
Zito allowed a leadoff triple to A.J. Pollock — the first of his career — on the fourth pitch of the game but then retired the next three batters to escape unscathed.
“We haven’t played well enough, that’s why we’re in the position we’re in,” Gibson said. “It’s disappointing. I don’t know what more I can say about it. We had an opportunity to come in here and beat these guys for the series. They’re a very good ballclub. This series is just kind of who we’ve been.”
Zito came through again after San Francisco’s 6-0 shutout Wednesday night. The Giants won for the eighth time in 10 games overall, and finish the year with three games in San Diego and three at Dodger Stadium. The pitcher also had a single for his fourth hit in 50 at-bats.
“Right on the barrel, just like I planned,” he quipped.
Brandon Belt had two hits and started in left field, where he could be used in the playoffs on days moves from catcher to first base as he did Thursday. Angel Pagan doubled and singled.
Zito allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, struck out three and walked three. Bochy has already said the lefty will be on the playoff roster this year.
Sergio Romo pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Corbin (6-8), who tossed eight impressive innings to beat the Giants in Arizona on Sept. 16, was knocked around for the second straight start and has lost four of his last five decisions.
“They’re always aggressive. My last game against them I threw well, but they were still aggressive,” Corbin said. “I just have to learn to minimize damage. I just made a couple of bad pitches.” NOTES: Scutaro is batting .452 (28 for 62) during his hitting streak. … Gregor Blanco (24th stolen base) and Pagan (29) pulled off a double steal in the seventh. … The teams split the season series 9-all. The D-backs were 12-6 vs. the Dodgers but missed a chance for their first winning series vs. both clubs in the same year since 2005.