'Mentally tough' Zito blanks Braves

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'Mentally tough' Zito blanks Braves

ATLANTA With two innings of satisfactory janitorial work,George Kontos and Clay Hensley held up quite a storyline for Barry Zito Tuesdaynight.

The Giants shut out the Atlanta Braves 9-0 at Turner Field just the clubs second shutout victory in the 16 years the locals have beenwaving Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and eating foam tomahawks here.

Zito contributed seven of those shutout innings on an easilybearable night in North Georgia. The other blanking here? It was in 2008 whenZito contributed seven shutout innings.

It was exactly what the Giants needed after getting carpetbombed on their previous road trip to Washington and Pittsburgh.

Hows this for another stat? Zito (8-6) has now pitchedat least seven innings without allowing a run in four of his 18 starts thisseason the most on the Giants staff. Matt Cain owns three such starts, RyanVogelsong and Tim Lincecum have two apiece and Madison Bumgarner has one.

And while it wasnt pretty, it should be noted that Zito startedin the only victory the Giants managed on their last woeful trip East.

Hes done a great job, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Hesgot eight wins. Its been a real pleasure to see how hes bounced back thisyear.

Hes tough mentally tough.

Thats what the manager said: Barry Zito, mentally tough.How many times over the last six years could Bochy say that?

Zito agreed with what Bochy told reporters prior toTuesdays game about the staffs unacceptable 4.85 ERA on the road, third worstin the majors. The left-hander and former Cy Young Award winner said he tookpride in being the one to start off a tough road trip.

Its not something weve addressed, but its definitelysomething were aware of, Zito said. We havent called a team meeting, but weknew on the road we had to bear down.

Its good to just be the guy. We all want to be out therewhen the team is scuffling. We all want to be the stopper.

Zito held a hot Braves lineup to three hits and a walk inseven innings.

Just throwing strikes, putting the pressure on them, beingaggressive same old things, he said. Those things work.

Zito even lined an RBI single after a foul ball nearlykilled both Gregor Blanco in the on-deck circle and Ryan Theriot on the topstep of the dugout. Both had to use Matrix-style moves to avoid the hot shot.

And Zito managed a catching change without any turbulence.After Hector Sanchez exited with a sprained left knee in the fourth inning,Zito worked with Buster Posey for the first time all season and didnt clashswords in the slightest.

Posey credited Zito with carrying his fastball through thezone.

He used his cutter in and out, and threw the curveball bothwhen behind in the count and ahead in the count, Posey said. He bounced itwhen he needed to bounce it. And he threw his changeup for strikes. He wasimpressive.

Zito was in less than impressive shape over the All-Starbreak. He took a commercial flight home, ate the cold chicken meal that wasoffered to him and came down with some kind of violent bacterial infection thatwreaked havoc with his GI tract for three days. So you could say he didntexactly enjoy the break.

It worked out good, Zito said. I had four or five days tobe sick.

And then provide seven innings of medicine the Giantspitching staff badly needed.

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P