GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Barry Zito has heard the doubters who question whether he can still pitch. Heck, he even thinks he's got something to prove to himself.
The left-hander took a step toward answering some of the questions by striking out two in three innings as a split squad of San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Friday night.
``I definitely have work to do, but I'm encouraged,' Zito said. ``I want to prove that I have what it takes to be productive.'
He gave up one earned run on two hits and walked one in his second spring start, two days after manager Bruce Bochy confirmed Zito remains the team's No. 4 starter.
``There's been some talk and things like that around camp. I don't know how much of that is based in truth, but at the end of the day this is the major leagues and you got to prove yourself every year,' Zito said. ``I've proven that I have good stuff in me, but it's a matter of making that happen on the field. I'm taking this very seriously.'
Thomas Neal and Buster Posey homered for the Giants, who earned their Cactus League-leading sixth victory on a 75-degree night at Camelback Ranch, where 11,261 fans poured in to see the World Series champions take on their California rivals.
The Giants open the season at Dodger Stadium on March 31.
Zito had a better outing than he did Monday against Milwaukee, when he allowed two earned runs on three hits, walked five and struck out two.
``I just want to stay in the moment when I'm out in the game,' he said. ``A lot of the times when I got off track last year, I was looking with too broad a lens instead of just pitch to pitch.'
Bochy said he thought Zito was better in the third inning.
``In the first two innings, he was out of sync,' he said. ``In that third inning, he slowed things down and had a better rhythm going, so he finished up on a good note, which is good news.'
Zito is 40-57 with a 4.45 ERA in his first four years with the Giants after signing a $126 million, seven-year contract before the 2007 season. He was left off the postseason roster for all three rounds last year as the Giants won their first World Series title since 1954.
``I don't think he quite gets the credit that he deserves. Wins and losses are things he can't control,' Bochy said. ``We've had a tough time getting him runs. He makes every start and gives us everything he's got, and that's all we can ask.'
Right-hander Jon Garland made his spring debut for the Dodgers after signing with them as a free agent. He allowed one run and one hit in three innings, struck out two and walked none. Garland will be the team's No. 5 starter after spending last season in San Diego.
``Very nice,' first-year Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ``He made it look pretty easy. He threw the ball pretty good.'
Garland hit Giants right fielder Cody Ross on the left wrist in the second. Zito struck designated hitter Marcus Thames on the right hand in the bottom of the inning.
Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton walked one in one inning in his second spring appearance.
Neal's first homer of the spring on the first pitch from Matt Guerrier landed in the Dodgers' bullpen in left field, giving the Giants a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Posey followed with his second homer on a 3-2 pitch from Ron Mahay in the sixth.
San Francisco extended its lead to 5-1 in the seventh when Mike Fontenot lined a two-run, two-out single to left field off Travis Schlicting.
The Giants led 1-0 in the second when Ross scored on Travis Ishikawa's soft fly to center field and Matt Kemp's throwing error.
Zito walked Jamie Hoffman to load the bases in the second. Ivan DeJesus Jr. grounded into a double play, with Thames scoring on a fielder's choice to tie the game.
Giants center fielder Andres Torres, out of the starting lineup since last weekend because of a sore left oblique, returned as the leadoff hitter and was 1 for 3 with a strikeout in five innings.
Notes: The Dodgers made their first cut of the spring, reassigning LHP Dana Eveland to minor league camp. He didn't pitch an inning because of a strained left hamstring sustained in the first day of drills. ... Giants backup C Eli Whiteside, bothered by right elbow inflammation, threw long toss on Friday and could play in a game next week. ... It was San Francisco's second game of the day, with a split squad having beaten Milwaukee 7-2 in Scottsdale. ... The Giants beat the Dodgers 8-3 last weekend, and the teams meet twice more this spring.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved