SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - When equipment manager Steve Vucinich told Josh Donaldson he might want to change something to work out of his hitting funk, the third baseman shaved off his beard Friday.
``Getting rid of the beard was it,' he said.
And something clicked without the added facial hair.
Donaldson homered, doubled in a run and hit a three-run double for career-bests of three hits and five RBIs in the Oakland Athletics' 8-6 loss to Barry Zito and the San Francisco Giants in the opener of the Bay Bridge Series.
Donaldson was batting .082 coming into the game, including 1 for 17 since being called up last Saturday from his three-week demotion to Triple-A Sacramento.
``This game was very emotional for me,' Donaldson said. ``I've been grinding all season and things just haven't been going my way. Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. I feel comfortable here and I'll just continue to work at it. Whenever good things happen sometimes I get excited out there.'
For Zito, the emotions are pretty much gone from his days across the bay. He no longer knows anybody playing on the other side with Oakland. He's not pitching against pals as he did before, when the pressure mounted in such situations and he fizzled.
``That was difficult,' Zito said. ``You almost don't want to develop friendships because you might be pitching against them next week.'
Zito has settled in to his new scene and outdid his old Oakland team this time, and was backed by Brandon Belt's three RBIs.
Hector Sanchez also had two RBIs to support Zito (3-1), who won the 2002 AL Cy Young Award with the A's but left for a $126 million, seven-year deal with the Giants before the 2007 season.
Oakland couldn't overcome a shaky night by starter Jarrod Parker (1-2) and lost its 10th straight in San Francisco's waterfront ballpark dating to 2009.
Donaldson did his part.
``He's a talented guy, we've seen it,' manager Bob Melvin said. ``We've also seen him struggle and when you do that, especially early in your career, it can play on you. You saw from the first swing he took he was off to the races. There's a good chance he'll be in there tomorrow.'
Zito matched his season high with five strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings and also drew a bases-loaded walk in the Giants' four-run third inning. The A's walked five that inning as San Francisco batted around on the way to scoring its most runs at home since getting eight last Sept. 12 against the Padres. Zito, who improved to just 2-4 with a 7.16 in six starts against the A's, walked off to a warm ovation from the sellout crowd of 41,477 with one out in the sixth after allowing Jemile Weeks' leadoff triple and an RBI single to Cliff Pennington.
Belt had an RBI single in the second, drew a bases-loaded walk in the third that chased Parker, and hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Zito came in with the lowest ERA of San Francisco's starters at 2.53 but raised it to 3.00 and fell behind Matt Cain's 2.67. He was furious to come out of the game.
``He's been solid,' said manager Bruce Bochy, who in hindsight wished he'd left Zito in the game. ``It's nice to see what Z's doing. He's pitching with a lot of confidence.'
This has been a comeback season for the 34-year-old lefty, who was kept off the roster for all three playoff rounds during the Giants' run to the 2010 World Series title.
Santiago Casilla, San Francisco's fifth reliever, pitched out of a jam in the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances. He retired Weeks on a groundout with runners on the corners to end it.
A's pitchers went 0 for 18 with seven strikeouts at the plate last season in interleague play and Parker struck out in the lone plate appearance Friday, extending the pitchers' hitting funk to 0 for 22 dating to Ben Sheets' single on June 19, 2010, at St. Louis.
``Oh, I didn't realize that,' Melvin said. ``Hopefully we'll be able to pick up on that.'
San Francisco's longest home winning streak against an opponent at AT&T Park is 12 games, against the Mets from May 1, 2000-May 16, 2003 - so the Giants could match that with a weekend sweep. They have a nine-game home winning streak against the Texas Rangers, who visit AT&T Park from June 8-10 still seeking their first win here.
A special logo was painted on the grass behind home plate in honor of next week's 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, and CEO and team president Larry Baer searched before the game for his Golden Gate Bridge neck tie.
Players wore special patches on their jerseys for the occasion, too.
A's lefty Travis Blackley, claimed off waivers this week from the Giants, entered the ballpark on his old San Francisco ID and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth against his old team.
Notes: Giants C Buster Posey had a planned night off and Sanchez caught Zito as has been customary. ... A's slugger and CF Yoenis Cespedes was set to have his injured left hand examined by a team doctor to determine whether he can start swinging. ... Melvin said that he appreciated receiving a call of apology from Thursday's home plate umpire, Laz Diaz, who ejected the manager for arguing a call on a suicide squeeze. ... Melvin went with Donaldson at 3B a day after he had an error that nearly cost Oakland its 5-4, 10-inning win at Texas. ... A Zito No. 75 signed orange jersey was donated for charity in commemoration of the bridge anniversary. ... A's OF Coco Crisp, on the DL with an inner ear infection, could be activated as soon as Sunday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved