SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Barry Zito begged and pleaded to stay in the game, wanting this moment to last a little bit longer, and manager Bruce Bochy almost obliged the pitcher.
Bochy stuck with his plan to pull Zito, who still won in what likely was his final hurrah for San Francisco, and Pablo Sandoval backed him with a two-run homer as the Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 on Wednesday night.
"I just let him know, 'This is my game, I'm going to go out there and shut them down, I feel good,'" Zito said. "I was frustrated."
Zito's up-and-down tenure on this side of San Francisco Bay is likely through after seven years, following seven with the Oakland Athletics on the other side of the water.
Tony Abreu hit a bases-loaded triple to stake Zito to a quick 3-0 lead in the second, then added an RBI double in the sixth as last year's World Series champions put themselves in position for a rare home series victory if they can win Thursday night's rubber game with the NL West champion Dodgers.
Zito departed with little fanfare and nary one last standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 41,377 because he was replaced between innings. Fans cheered him after the game, and Zito stuck around to sign autographs.
"Definitely there's not a lot of closure in sports," he said.
He outpitched Ricky Nolasco (13-11), whose late-September struggles have the Dodgers a bit concerned with the playoffs looming.
The right-hander is 0-2 over his last three outings since getting victories in four consecutive starts and seven straight decisions.
"Ricky's shown us he can throw the ball really well and he can make good pitches," manager Don Mattingly said. "I don't think Ricky has done anything that's going to change our mind."
Zito (5-11), making his first start since Sept. 2 at San Diego, snapped a 13-start winless stretch and eight-game losing streak — including his previous four starts — since beating Oakland on May 30.
The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner across the bay with the Athletics, Zito signed a $126 million, seven-year contract before the 2007 season.
"I still remember where I was when the contract was finalized and I knew it was going to be a heck of a ride, on the field and off, and it's certainly been that for me," said Zito, who lost both of his parents in recent years.
Left off the roster for all three postseason rounds during the club's run to the 2010 World Series title, Zito bounced back to win Game 5 of the NLCS last fall in St. Louis while facing elimination, then Game 1 of a surprising World Series sweep of Detroit.
Zito took a comebacker to the left thigh in the fifth but stayed in to finish the inning and be in line for the win. But that was it, and catcher Buster Posey offered him a handshake in the dugout.