Zito, the Giants' woebegone $126 million left-hander, still seemed headed for another defeat until his San Francisco teammates took charge against a Los Angeles bullpen that's also seen better days.
Randy Winn and Fred Lewis hit two-out RBI singles during San Francisco's four-run rally in the seventh inning, and the Giants kept the Dodgers out of first place in the NL West with a 5-2 comeback victory Saturday night.
Before the Giants' decisive rally, Park and Zito staged one of the majors' more unlikely pitchers' duels. While Park threw six innings of three-hit ball, Zito (4-12) struck out 10 in perhaps the best start of his woeful season—and he ended up with his first home victory of the season.
"That's kind of the guy that I remember being," said Zito, who has been downright solid in two of his last three starts after a horrific 2 1/2 -month stretch to open the season. "Sometimes you want to make the fans happy, but you can't want it too much, because you start pressing. You've just got to try to be yourself."
Zito, who already has set the team record for losses before the All-Star break, made up for a bad first inning with six outstanding frames, retiring 13 straight batters at one point and yielding six hits over seven innings. Relying on pinpoint control and a sharp slider for strikeouts, Zito finally looked familiar to fans who remember him from across the bay in Oakland.
The Dodgers recognized him, too. They were the last team to strike out 10 times against Zito, back on June 16, 2006.
"Once he started locating, he kept us off balance," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He threw 25-30 pitches in the first inning, and after that, he was a surgeon. … That's certainly closer to the pitcher he is instead of what you've seen so far this season."
Bengie Molina added a two-run double for the Giants, who snapped the Dodgers' four-game winning streak. Brian Wilson got four outs for his 24th save in 26 chances—including 15 in a row—as the Giants improved the majors' worst home record to 17-27 with just their fourth win in 14 games at their waterfront ballpark.
Six straight Giants reached base with two outs in the seventh, starting with Lewis' tying single off Brian Falkenborg (0-1). After Ray Durham walked, Winn drove home Lewis with a high-bouncing grounder up the middle that barely eluded second baseman Jeff Kent. Molina then doubled down the left-field line off Cory Wade.
"I was happy to get (Zito) a win for the effort he gave us," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We had some great at-bats and timely hitting. That's what it takes. It was a well-played game."
With the Arizona Diamondbacks' loss to San Diego, Los Angeles (42-45) could have moved into first place for the first time since the season's opening week.
Instead, the bullpen couldn't help Park, who was outstanding for the third straight outing since replacing injured Brad Penny in the rotation. The right-hander had seven strikeouts and retired 11 straight in the middle innings, giving up his only run in the sixth on Aaron Rowand's RBI double.
"I was just trying to throw strikes," said Park, who has allowed two runs and 10 hits in 17 innings since joining the rotation. "It was good except the one pitch (to Rowand) that hurt me. … If we keep winning, we'll catch up to first place. Hopefully we'll get comfortable."
Matt Kemp hit Zito's second pitch to deep left-center, but a fan stuck his glove over the fence and caught it on the fly, limiting Kemp to a double. Two pitches later, Andre Ethier hit a double down the right-field line, scoring Kemp anyway. Ethier then scored on Andruw Jones' groundout.
After Kemp was caught stealing to end the second inning, Zito retired every batter he faced until Nomar Garciaparra's one-out bloop single in the seventh.