PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Barry Zito knew it was time to test the curveball.
He was right.
Zito struck out five in a row in the first and second innings, but Brandon Mauer shut down the Giants and led the Seattle Mariners to a 6-3 victory over San Francisco on Tuesday.
"I definitely wanted to get the curveball in the game," he said. "I just haven't thrown a whole lot through my sequences in the spring."
Zito focused on throwing his curveball, relying almost exclusively on the pitch.
"I really wanted to get a feel for it this game," Zito said.
Zito pitched five innings for the first time, scattering five hits and giving up two runs. He struck out seven overall and walked one.
During a stretch that spanned the first and second innings, he fanned, the heart of Seattle's lineup: Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Kyle Seager Jason Bay and Kelly Shoppach.
"My timing was definitely better than it's been the last couple outings," Zito said.
Zito spent last spring working on mechanical issues in an effort to recover from injuries to his right foot in 2011. He regained his form, going 15-8 and helping the Giants win the World Series title in 2012. This spring, he's been free to center his focus on perfecting his timing.
"Certainly my confidence is higher this year," Zito said, "but it's also a factor of focusing more on making pitches and not so much on mechanics."
Maurer, a 22-year-old with no experience pitching above Double-A, was equally effective. The right-hander held the Giants to one run on three hits in five innings. He also struck out four and walked none.
Maurer said he felt butterflies before taking the mound, but striking out leadoff hitter Andres Torres calmed him down.