SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Barry Zito is accustomed to second-half success, not an unbeaten April.
Oh, how times have changed for the San Francisco Giants' $126 million man.
Zito has won four straight decisions to start the season for the first time in his career, and he led the San Francisco Giants past the Colorado Rockies 5-2 Friday night in his latest standout start.
``I don't think April has gone this way for me,' said Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner while across the bay with the Oakland Athletics. ``It feels good.'
Zito (4-0), receiving chants of ``Barry! Barry!' for the second straight outing at home, pitched eight innings and settled down after falling behind 1-0 in the first. The left-hander followed an impressive eight-inning, 10-strikeout effort against St. Louis last Saturday with another solid start, and he has yet to give up a home run in 2010.
All of that after he went 31-43 in his first three rocky seasons with the Giants that featured more boos than cheers.
``When you realize you can handle going 0-8 and getting sent to the bullpen, you don't worry about much,' Zito said. ``It's not just a coincidence. You say, 'All I can be is myself.''
After allowing an RBI single to Carlos Gonzalez in the first, Zito retired the next 10 in order before Todd Helton drew a two-out walk in the fourth.
Aubrey Huff hit a two-run double and Juan Uribe had a two-run single in the fourth, connecting on the first pitch from Aaron Cook (1-3).
Uribe, playing shortstop late in the game after starting at second base, made a great running catch in foul territory near where the tarp is kept to end the eighth inning with a runner on third. Zito yelled ``Whoo!' and pumped his fist as the crowd jumped to its feet.
Zito said he isn't aware that he's showing more emotion and talking to himself on the mound.
``Just oblivious,' he said.
He insists he's done feeling the constant pressure of his hefty contract, opting to forget about the money or what he did five days earlier and just pitch ``in the moment.'
``I tried it and tried it and tried it and it didn't work,' he said of thinking so much about his salary.
His spectacular curveball was ``snapping good,' and he has three other pitches working, too.
``He's always had the stuff and he's always had the know-how,' Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. ``He's getting the ball over the plate. That's the difference in the Barry Zito a couple years ago versus the Barry Zito that actually we saw a couple times late last season. He pitched a tremendous game against us last year when the two clubs were battling to wits' end for a playoff spot.'
Sergio Romo started the ninth instead of regular closer Brian Wilson, who blew his first save Wednesday and then tweaked his right groin playing catch before Friday's game. But Jeremy Affeldt relieved after Melvin Mora's two-out double, and recorded the final out for his second save in three chances.
Affeldt wanted to finish it for Zito.
``This year, he just has a different charisma about him,' Affeldt said.
Pablo Sandoval added an RBI single in the fifth for the Giants, giving him a career-best 10-game hitting streak.
Carlos Gonzalez had an RBI single in the first to put the Rockies ahead, but Colorado couldn't do enough to back Cook. The Rockies also scored on a wild pitch as they kicked off a nine-game road trip against NL West teams.
Both managers shook up their lineups for the series opener after a day off Thursday. Tracy moved Helton down a spot from the cleanup hole to fifth and used Troy Tulowitzki in the No. 4 slot. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy returned Bengie Molina to the cleanup hole where he batted last season, dropping Huff down to the fifth spot.
For the Rockies, it didn't matter much.
``He's always tough against us. I can't hit him,' Tulowitzki said of Zito. ``I've never been able to hit him. Hopefully one day I'll figure him out.'
The Rockies finished 11-12 in April and have gone over .500 in the opening month only five times during the franchise's 17-year history.
Uribe returned to the starting lineup for his first action in the field since leaving last Saturday's game with tightness in his right elbow. Uribe moved to shortstop in the top of the third after Edgar Renteria left the game with right groin tightness.
Notes: Rockies closer Huston Street, who began the season on the disabled list with stiffness in his right shoulder, is scheduled for a 30-pitch bullpen session Saturday. ... Colorado RHP Taylor Buchholz (elbow surgery) struck out three on 12 pitches in extended spring training at Tucson, Ariz. RHP Greg Reynolds (right elbow contusion) is close to beginning a rehab assignment. ... Rockies All-Star OF Brad Hawpe, on the 15-day DL with a strained left quadriceps, ran strides and distance and was pain-free. He will begin sprint work Monday in San Diego. ... Omar Samhan of the Saint Mary's men's basketball team that made the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament and Kayla Pedersen of Stanford's NCAA runner-up women's team each threw out ceremonial first pitches.
The Associated Press News Service
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