He just wishes he could have finished what he started in his latest gem against Florida.
Zito pitched into the ninth in his best start of the season and one of his finest in three seasons with the Giants, Juan Uribe hit a two-run homer and San Francisco won its fourth straight at home against the Marlins with a 3-0 victory Tuesday night.
“I’ve got four years left on this deal after this,” Zito said of his $126 million, seven-year contract. “I want more than anything to let my potential come through, and show and let myself know, more importantly than others, that I’m still capable of throwing up effective outings.”
Zito was close to his 11th career complete game and second this season, but manager Bruce Bochy pulled him for Sergio Romo after Wes Helms’ one-out single on the left-hander’s 107th pitch.
At that point, Zito knew he was probably coming out. Bochy’s mind was made up to switch pitchers as soon as Zito allowed a baserunner, but the fans booed the skipper for his decision.
Zito appeared disappointed, pulling his jersey over his mouth as he walked off the mound for the dugout.
“I haven’t quite earned the right to get out of my own jams late. That’s something I’ve got to earn back,” he said, noting it was a nice boost getting into the ninth. “I’ve had a lot more challenges here than I could have predicted. That’s just another one.”
Zito (5-8), who entered his 17th start with the lowest run support in the majors at 2.80, outpitched All-Star Josh Johnson (7-2) with an efficient performance. He allowed four hits, struck out six and walked one in only his second outing of the year reaching eight innings.
“Wow on the job he did tonight,” Romo said. “Randy goes on the DL and it’s quite a blow.”
Romo recorded the final two outs in the Giants’ majors-best 12th shutout and fifth in the last 10 games for his first career save in as many tries. San Francisco won for the seventh time in 10 games.
Bengie Molina hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth and Uribe connected in the fifth for his third homer.
Zito had only one win in his previous four starts, but stayed strong late in the game. He also protected his perfect career record against the Marlins: 4-0 in five starts. The Giants have won all of those.
“Everything was working,” said Molina, the catcher. “I think he’s been pitching great, we just can’t score for him.”
Florida was blanked for the third time this year and has lost 12 of its last 17 in the Giants’ waterfront ballpark.
Zito faced one more than the minimum through five, allowing singles to Cody Ross and Dan Uggla but getting a double play to end the fourth. He had runners on first and second in the sixth and escaped unscathed.
Josh Johnson, who had won four straight decisions, picked up his first loss since May 19 against Arizona. He is the first Marlins pitcher named to the All-Star team since Dontrelle Willis in 2005 and just the eighth overall.
The right-hander has allowed three or fewer earned runs in his last 15 starts, which matches the longest single-season streak in franchise history. Kevin Brown also accomplished the feat in 1996.
“It was probably the best I felt in a month or so,” Johnson said. “I just made a couple of bad pitches. But it’s definitely something I can build on for the next start. It was good to finally find somewhat of a rhythm.”
All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez missed his third straight start with an injured right hip flexor. Manager Fredi Gonzalez was waiting for Ramirez to go through some pregame baseball activities to further determine his status. Ramirez is scheduled to start for the NL in next week’s All-Star game at Busch Stadium.
“He’s making progress, but not as much as we’d hoped,” Gonzalez said.