Giants 4, Athletics 1

Pablo Sandoval has made strides nearly as big as his nickname:

Kung Fu Panda.

Sandoval, San Francisco’s slimmed-down, free-swinging slugger,

hit an RBI double in the second inning of the Giants’ 4-1 victory

over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night and yet again showed

off his improved range at third base from an offseason of rigorous

workouts.

He also staked Barry Zito to an early lead. These two are the

players on the World Series champions with the most to prove in

2011. Zito was left off the playoff roster for all three postseason

rounds last fall during the club’s surprising run to the city’s

first championship since moving West in 1958.

”Both of them came into camp in great shape and both performed

well,” manager Bruce Bochy said. ”Both look very determined to

bounce back and have great years.”

Zito went 5 2-3 allowing four hits, four walks and a run with

four strikeouts.

The left-hander with the big curveball is beginning year 5 of

his $126 million, seven-year contract and would like nothing more

than to return to the dominating form of his 2002 AL Cy Young Award

season while with the A’s.

Zito, the team’s No. 4 starter, went 9-14 last year and failed

to reach 10 wins for the first time since his rookie season in

2000. His 4.15 ERA was the fourth-highest of his career. He went

1-8 with a 6.72 ERA over his last 11 outings and 10 starts and only

had one victory in his last 15 appearances.

”Just another one to get the rhythm going heading to L.A.,”

Zito said. ”I just want to be quiet out there, in a good rhythm

and comfortable. Keep the game slow.”

Nate Schierholtz added a solo home run for the Giants in the

eighth. Ramon Ramirez (1-0) pitched one inning of relief for the

win.

Oakland designated hitter Hideki Matsui singled off Zito to

start the second in his first game at the Coliseum since joining

the A’s this offseason on a $4.25 million, one-year deal. Matsui

also added a fourth-inning single and a base hit in the sixth that

chased Zito – Matsui’s first three-hit game this spring.

”Physically I feel pretty good. Hitting wise, I’m pretty close.

I feel pretty ready,” Matsui said. ”I was able to hit the ball

pretty well, pretty hard today.”

The Giants went ahead in the seventh when Mark DeRosa walked and

later scored on an error. Mike Fontenot added an RBI single that

scored Sandoval.

A’s lefty Gio Gonzalez (1-2) allowed two runs and three hits in

6 1-3 innings, struck out four and walked three in his final tuneup

for the regular season.

Gonzalez said the Giants’ surprising run last fall motivated him

to upgrade his offseason fitness routine.

”I’d have to say what the Giants did, it’s pretty inspiring,”

Gonzalez said.

Landon Powell hit an RBI single in the sixth for Oakland’s lone

run.

It’s two more lefties for the preseason Bay Bridge Series finale

Wednesday at AT&T Park, with Madison Bumgarner going for the

Giants and Dallas Braden for the A’s.

Top Giants prospect Brandon Belt earned a start at DH and has

done all in his power to make the club as a first baseman, Bochy

said. The Giants’ brass had a tough decision to make on whether to

keep him in the big leagues or start him at Triple-A Fresno. Bochy

said an announcement should come after Wednesday afternoon’s game

before the team flies to Los Angeles, where the Giants open the

season Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

”It’s up to us to decide if it’s his time or not,” Bochy said.

”He’s had a good spring and done very well for himself.”

The A’s lost their fifth straight exhibition game and sixth in

seven.

Notes: Guillermo Mota earned the save. … The Giants granted

RHP Jeff Suppan his release from a minor league contract. Suppan

wasn’t going to make the roster by the March 30 deadline in his

deal and had an opt-out clause in the contract that allowed him to

be released and become a free agent. … Injured San Francisco

closer Brian Wilson threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session back in

Scottsdale, Ariz., to test his strained left side muscle. He is

likely headed to the disabled list to start the season, and would

be eligible to come off April 6. ”Willie felt great,” Bochy said.

”We’re very encouraged with his progress. We’ll decide tomorrow

our next move. I don’t think he’ll start the season with us.” …

A’s 2B Mark Ellis was scratched with tightness in his calf. … A’s

closer Andrew Bailey (strained forearm) made 30 throws playing

catch from 80 feet. ”He said it went extremely well. He was very

positive of his throwing session,” manager Bob Geren said. …

Oakland RHP Rich Harden threw his first bullpen session in six

weeks, making 30 pitches. He is nursing a strained lat muscle below

his pitching shoulder.