San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito hopes to continue a strong start to the season this evening when the Giants continue a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Zito managed just three wins last season and pitched to a 5.87 earned run average in 13 games. However, the former American League Cy Young Award winner opened his campaign this year with a shutout and has allowed two earned runs in each of his last two outings, although he hasn't received a decision in either of those starts.
Zito has faced the Reds 10 times (nine starts) and is 3-4 with a 7.47 ERA against them. Since joining San Francisco in 2007, Zito is 0-2 versus the Reds with a 7.20 ERA in five starts.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, also has a pitcher who is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in righty Bronson Arroyo, who is 1-0 with a 2.91 ERA. Arroyo picked up the win on Thursday in St. Louis, as he surrendered three runs and five hits in eight innings.
Arroyo's ERA is the lowest it has been through three starts to open a season. That after a year that saw him allow more earned runs (112) and home runs (46) than any other pitcher in the league.
"Really all the three times I've been out, I've been pounding the zone with strikes probably more than I have my whole career," said Arroyo, who's walked just one batter in 21 2/3 innings this season. "I haven't been throwing a lot of balls.
"Coming out of spring, I was relatively healthy. My back feels good, my arm feels pretty good. I'm at least giving myself a chance to get off on the right foot."
Arroyo is 3-5 lifetime against the Giants with a 3.25 ERA in 10 games (nine starts).
Cincinnati got a strong effort from Mat Latos on Tuesday to claim the opener of this set, as the newly-acquired right-hander tossed seven shutout innings for his first win of the season, Brandon Phillips hit a two-run homer and drove in three and the Reds rolled to a 9-2 victory.
Latos (1-2) gave up four hits and two walks while striking out three and Ryan Ludwick added a solo homer in Cincinnati's fourth win in five games.
The Reds started a nine-game homestand after winning two of three against the Cubs over the weekend to finish 4-6 on a 10-game road trip.
Matt Cain (1-1) struck out seven but gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings for the Giants. The 27-year-old righty had allowed just three hits in his previous two starts, going nine innings in both.
Buster Posey hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning for San Francisco, which was coming off a doubleheader sweep over the Mets on Monday in New York.
"It was a long night we had last night," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "We got in in the wee hours of the morning. But give [Latos] credit. He threw well."
Cincinnati won five of their seven meetings with the Giants a year ago.