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Zito has shortest start of season in loss

8/3/2003

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Although Jason Giambi had a front-row
seat for much of Barry Zito's development into last season's AL Cy
Young winner, he didn't recognize the shaky left-hander who got
pounded by the New York Yankees.

Giambi hit a three-run homer and Bernie Williams had four hits
and two RBI as the Yankees tagged Zito for eight runs in a 10-7
victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.

It was the shortest start of the season for Zito (8-9), who has
little chance of defending his Cy Young Award despite one of the
best ERAs (3.30) in the league.

He has been hurt by poor run support at times this season, but
Zito did himself in this time. Falling behind in the count to
almost every hitter, he allowed eight hits and two walks in just
three innings, and he set up New York's five unearned runs in the
second with a defensive mistake.

"I don't think I've ever seen Barry as wild as he was today,"
said Giambi, his teammate in Oakland until last season. "He's one
of those guys that you're normally down 0-2, 1-2 in the count every
time.

"He's a Cy Young winner, and everybody gets up to try to beat
him. He's not a secret any more. You get those awards and
accolades, and it makes everything tougher for you."

Zito got the most memorable victory of his career against the
Yankees in the 2000 playoffs, and he had a 3.12 ERA lifetime
against New York before falling apart on a hot day at the Coliseum.

The left-hander is 0-4 with a 3.86 ERA in his last six starts.

"Everything was flat today," Zito said. "I was also behind
the count. Of course I'm not happy not getting a win in a month.
You just have to keep on grinding, and try not to get down on
myself. The team needs the normal Barry, not the someone else."

Zito's problems were underscored by another prolific effort from
the Yankees, who won for the 11th time in 16 games.

Williams hit his first homer since May 10 off reliever John
Halama in the seventh, adding to an earlier RBI single. The
five-time All-Star emerged from an 11-for-50 slump with his best
game since returning from the disabled list July 9.

The switch-hitting Williams still has trouble batting
left-handed, since he hasn't regained full strength in his legs
since having surgery on his left knee. Those problems didn't affect
him against Oakland.

"Everybody likes hitting homers, but hitting the ball hard is
more important to me right now," Williams said. "With my knee,
it's just a matter of staying with the exercises and making sure it
gets stronger."

John Flaherty and Hideki Matsui also homered for the Yankees,
who returned from Friday night's tough extra-inning loss to Oakland
with an impressive power display.

Jeff Weaver (6-8) recovered from a rough beginning to retire 11
of 12 in his third victory in five weeks. He allowed 10 hits and
struck out five in 6 1-3 innings.

Mariano Rivera relieved with two on and none out in the ninth.
He gave up Miguel Tejada's sacrifice fly in getting his 21st save.

Eric Chavez singled, doubled and tripled while going 4-for-4 for
Oakland, but also made a key throwing error. Erubiel Durazo had
three RBI and Tejada had two as the A's lost for just the fourth
time in 13 games.

After Aaron Boone drove in his first run with the Yankees on a
first-inning grounder, Zito got into another jam in the second.
With two outs and two runners on, he caught Alfonso Soriano trying
to sneak to third base -- but instead of charging directly at
Soriano, Zito threw to third, allowing Soriano to get back to
second safely.

Chavez, trying to make up for Zito's bad decision, threw wildly
past second base for an error. Derek Jeter and Williams then drove
in runs, and Giambi followed them with a tape-measure shot to right
-- where so many of his homers landed during his days with the A's.

Of course, Giambi was booed.

"They wouldn't boo me if they didn't miss me," Giambi said
with a grin.

Game notes
The light-hitting Flaherty added a two-run homer in the
third, and Zito was done. Flaherty has three career hits off Zito --
all homers. ... Boone was in the Yankees' cleanup spot in his
second game since arriving from Cincinnati. He went 0-for-4. ...
Halama allowed just two hits in four innings of relief -- but they
were homers by Williams and Matsui. ... The bright Oakland sun
caused havoc for the Yankees all day. Matsui got a late break on
Durazo's single, which then took a crazy hop past the left fielder;
moments later, Boone overran a foul pop to third base by 10 feet.
... Jose Guillen, hitting in the A's No. 2 slot, went 1-for-5 with
a ninth-inning single that snapped an 0-for-15 skid. He's 1-for-9
in his first two games since arriving in a trade with Cincinnati.