Athletics-Giants Preview

Barry Zito is off to the best start of his much-maligned tenure

with the San Francisco Giants. He’ll try to keep things going

against his former team.

Zito will look to help the Giants win their 10th straight at

home versus the Oakland Athletics on Friday night when the Bay Area

rivals open a three-game series.

In the second-to-last year of a seven-year, $126 million

contract, Zito (2-1, 2.53 ERA) has never finished with a winning

record for the Giants nor had an ERA lower than 4.03.

However, the left-hander hasn’t given up more than three earned

runs in seven start this season, including at Arizona on Sunday

when he allowed three runs and struck out five in six innings of a

7-3 win.

“It’s been good, contributing the best I can this year,” he

said. “I don’t feel like I’ve made any kind of statement and I

won’t until the year is over. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m off

to a decent start but I can’t take anything for granted.”

It also marked some rare offensive support for Zito, who was

winless since his first start. The Giants scored three or fewer

runs in each of his previous five outings.

Building on the victory Friday could be difficult. Zito snapped

a four-game losing streak against his former team in 2010 to

improve to 1-4 with a 7.24 ERA versus Oakland.

The Giants (19-19) split a pair of two-game sets this week with

Colorado and St. Louis, avoiding a third straight loss with a 7-5

win over the Cardinals on Thursday.

While San Francisco has waited a long time for Zito to pay

dividends on his contract, the Athletics are seeing early results

from Jarrod Parker (1-1, 2.10).

Oakland (20-19) acquired Parker in December from Arizona, and

the 23-year-old right-hander has pitched into the sixth in all four

starts while surrendering two or fewer runs in each of them. He

lasted 5 2-3 innings against Detroit on Sunday, allowing two runs

in a 3-1 loss.

Oakland continues a seven-game road trip after splitting a

two-game set with Texas. The Athletics won 5-4 in 10 innings

Thursday on Kila Ka’aihue’s RBI single.

Manager Bob Melvin was ejected in the sixth on a disputed call

that allowed the Rangers to take the lead.

“I thought it was terrific,” Melvin told the Athletics’ official

website. “We lose a game here (Wednesday) when we didn’t play

great, and we come back and deal with some adversity and such and

get some big hits, and everyone contributes. … This was as much

of a team win as you’re going to see.”

This series begins in the wake of baseball Commissioner Bud

Selig’s comments at the quarterly owners meeting Thursday about a

potential move by the Athletics.

Oakland is looking to build a new ballpark 40 miles south of the

city in San Jose, which is considered part of the Giants’

territory. Selig said it’s up to Lew Wolff, the A’s owner, whether

to consider additional sites.

The A’s have averaged 1.8 runs during their nine-game skid at

AT&T Park.