That truck is up and running again, and the Giants zombie-walked into its path.
The Giants only had two hits in the first seven innings and they shouldve been gimmes: leadoff doubles in the second and fifth. They let both chances pass and the Dodgers kept accelerating, cutting the Giants lead to one game in the NL West and positioning themselves for a chance at a three-game sweep at China Basin.
The difference between this series and the last one? Simply put: injuries.
The Dodgers didnt have Kemp last time. The Giants are without Pablo Sandoval now. And although Marco Scutaro made his Giants debut Saturday, hes not intended to be a response to the Dodgers cash-absorbing addition of Hanley Ramirez.
Already, Ramirez is making an impact in this division race. He collected two RBI hits and scored another run. And of course, his two-run home run won Friday nights game.
Starting pitching report
Zito had been 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this season, but Kemp was on the disabled list for one of those assignments and was 3 for 3 against him in the other.
A .449 career hitter in 49 at-bats, Kemp improved that average while doing damage with a two-run home run in the first inning.
Zito (8-7) didnt pay for another mistake until the fifth, when the Dodgers 7-8 hitters went single-double to start the inning and pitcher Chad Billingsley hit a sacrifice fly to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
The Giants tried to squeeze one more inning out of Zito, but Kemp led off with a single (he ended the day as a .462 hitter against the lefty). After Hanley Ramirez hit into a fielders choice, Jerry Hairston Jr. followed with a double to right field that wasnt easily corralled. The relay arrived at the plate ahead of Ramirez, but catcher Buster Posey was positioned so far in front of the dish that his swipe tag had no chance to prevent the run.
Zito ended up allowing four runs (all earned) on seven hits in 5 13 innings. For the third consecutive start, he issued just one walk. Overall, it was the kind of strike-throwing effort that the Giants hoped Zito could provide as the de facto No.5 starter.
The Giants are 10-10 in Zitos starts this season.
The Giants found a more experienced upgrade to Emmanuel Burriss in Marco Scutaro. The club is seeking to do the same for right-hander George Kontos, who gave up a solo homer to A.J. Ellis along with consecutive doubles to Kemp and Ramirez in a three-run seventh inning.
Kemps fourth hit of the afternoon was a double off Brad Penny in a three-run ninth inning. Ramirez added another lo viste RBI single.
At the plate
Buster Posey doubled to start the second inning but the Giants couldnt even advance him with a productive out. The same thing happened when Angel Pagan took a risk with a three-run deficit and hustled a double to start the fifth. Brandon Belt took a called third strike and the next two batters grounded out.
The next inning, Aubrey Huff replaced Belt as part of a double-switch. In his first at-bats since June 10, he grounded out and struck out.
The Giants loaded the bases with three singles in the eighth, but Ryan Theriot grounded out.
They were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and are now hitting .188 with two outs and RISP for the season the second-worst mark in the major leagues, better than only the San Diego Padres.
Scutaro popped to short, grounded out to third and singled in his Giants debut.
Shortstop Brandon Crawfords errorless streak ended at 30 games. He made his first miscue since June 17 at Seattle, dropping Ethiers spinning, one-hopper for what shouldve been the third out in the seventh inning. Kemp and Ramirez followed with doubles that put the game away.
Ethier made the highlight play of the game, racing back and crashing into the bricks while catching Melky Cabreras deep drive in the seventh inning.
Scutaro, playing third base for the first time since 2008, handled all his chances without incident.
The Giants announced 42,030 paid. Give em time to pick up the old Scutaro chant that used to echo through the Coliseum.
The Giants and Dodgers complete their three-game series in Sunday as Ryan Vogelsong (8-4, 2.26) tries to outpitch left-hander Clayton Kershaw (7-6, 3.14) for the third time this season. After Sunday, the two clubs still have nine more games remaining in their season series: Aug. 20-22 at LA, Sept. 7-9 at SF and Oct. 1-3 at LA in the final three games of the year.