San Francisco Giants 6, Houston Astros 4: The continuing saga of bungling Barry Zito

San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, right, waits as manager Bruce Bochy (15) comes out to the mound to remove him from the baseball game against the Houston Astros in the third inning, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, in Houston. Zito pitcher two and one third innings, giving up seven hits and three runs. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

BOX SCORE

The title of Wedneday’s game in Houston could have been “Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Zito.”

Or is it “Dr. Zito and Mr. Hyde”?

That’s the problem. We just don’t know.

When you think Zito is going to get clobbered, he turns in a gem. When you think this is a game Zito can win, he gets lit up.

Take a look at the good and bad starts by Zito since June 20:

The good

  • 6/25 vs. Dodgers: 7 IP, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, win
  • 6/30 vs. Reds: 6 IP, 1 R, 6 BB, 3 K, loss
  • 7/17 at Braves: 7 IP, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, win
  • 7/22 at Phillies: 7 IP, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K, loss
  • 8/7 at Cardinals: 6.2 IP, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K, win
  • 8/23 vs. Braves: 8 IP, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K, win
  • TOTAL: 41.2 IP, 4-2, 1.75 ERA

And the bad

  • 7/6 at Pirates: 5 IP, 4 R, 3 BB, 3K, win
  • 7/28 vs. Dodgers: 5 IP, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 K, loss
  • 8/2 vs. Mets: 4.1 IP, 7 R, 3 BB, 1 K, loss
  • 8/12 vs. Rockies: 5.1 IP, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K
  • 8/18 at Padres: 4 IP, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K
  • 8/29 at Astros: 2.1 IP, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 K
  • TOTAL: 26 IP, 22 ER, 1-2, 7.62 ERA

Since August, it’s been even more puzzling. Zito has been able to shut down playoff-contending teams like the Cardinals and Braves. But he can’t contain losing teams like the Mets, Rockies, Padres and Astros.

Luckily for the Giants, they’ve been able to produce enough offensive to counter-act Zito’s last three poor performances and still win.

That’s what happen Wednesday, thanks to Pence and the pen.

Hunter Pence gave the Giants 4-0 lead in the first inning with his three-run home run. Then Zito slowly started to give it back.

The odd part of Zito’s start Wednesday is he didn’t walk anyone. But he did give up seven hits in 2 1/3 innings before getting the hook. He left with the Giants leading 4-3 and was lucky not to get tagged with two more runs thanks to George Kontos’ nice escape act with two on in the third.

Giants relievers Kontos, Guillermo Mota, Jose Mijares, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez limited the Astros to one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings to preserve the win.

Zito blamed his Wednesday struggles on pitch selection, saying he should have shook off Buster Posey when the catcher called for changeups.

“That’s my job to shake,” Zito said. “It’s nothing Posey is doing wrong. … Sometimes you’re just fixed up togo. You see a sign and go. But it’s one me to throw my pitch.”

At the start of the year, Hector Sanchez was Zito’s personal catcher. Sanchez was behind the plate in Zito’s first 18 starts of the year. But with the Giants needing to keep Posey’s bat in the lineup after Melky Cabrera’s suspension, Posey has caught four of Zito’s last five starts.

So what’s next for Zito. Who knows? His next start comes Monday at home against the Diamondbacks. Then if the rotation stays in turn, it will be vs. the Dodgers, at Diamondbacks, vs. the Rockies, vs. the Diamondbacks, at the Dodgers.

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