Giants raise world championship flag in opener with Cards

The San Francisco Giants will raise their 2012 World Series championship banner on Friday when they kick off a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park.

Of course, the Giants defeated the Cardinals in a thrilling NLCS a year ago to advance to the World Series, where they swept the Detroit Tigers to claim their second title in three years.

A big part of that championship run was lefty Barry Zito, who will be on the hill Friday. Zito enjoyed one of his best regular seasons in years, as he went 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA. But after being a non-factor during the Giants' 2010 championship run, Zito was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three postseason appearances last year.

"I can't predict how I am," Zito said. "I would like to stay focused on what I have to do and my process and not get caught up too much in the festivities and stuff like that. That's great for the fans, obviously. That's for them to enjoy but for us we've got to focus on our tasks."

San Francisco opened its season in impressive fashion by taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers. On Wednesday, Pablo Sandoval stroked a two-run homer and the Giants took a 5-3 victory.

Hunter Pence added a solo homer and the Giants received an RBI from starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (1-0), who was effectively wild over five innings.

After a rough 2012 campaign, Lincecum was far from his former dominant self in his first start of the season, tying a career-high with seven walks. He only gave up three hits, though, and while he allowed two runs, neither were earned.

Sergio Romo locked down the save in the ninth.

St. Louis, meanwhile, lost two of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a 10-9 loss in a 16-inning marathon on Wednesday. Yadier Molina homered and drove in three runs, while Daniel Descalso went 4-for-7 with two runs scored and two RBI for the Cardinals.

St. Louis' Lance Lynn lasted just four-plus innings after yielding four runs on six hits and three walks.

Getting the call for the Cardinals on Friday will be righty Jake Westbrook, who was 13-11 last season with a 3.97 ERA, but had his campaign cut short in September by an oblique injury.

"I feel good about where I am," Westbrook said.

The Cardinals split their six matchups with the Giants last season. However, St. Louis hasn't won a season series against them since it took four of five during the 2006 season.