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SF@DET: Tejada smacks a grand slam to left

DETROIT -- The Giants' hitters rarely took a break in Saturday night's 15-3 victory over the Tigers.

But their most impressive performer might have been pitcher Barry Zito, who overcame both lack of rest and then too much rest in his second consecutive solid outing since returning from the disabled list.

A minor fuss was made over the fact that Zito (2-1) would pitch on three days' rest, one fewer than usual. Actually, as a practitioner of the old-fashioned habit of throwing nearly every day between starts, Zito was the right man for the job.

He proved that by working six shutout innings while overcoming a fresh challenge: Not throwing a single pitch for approximately three hours. A downpour combined with an electrical storm halted play for two hours and 36 minutes while San Francisco was batting in the third inning, rendering Zito idle.

Many starters would have called it an evening, for fear of injuring their throwing arm or aggravating one that might have stiffened. But unlike Detroit starter Max Scherzer, who vanished after the delay, Zito returned to pitch four shutout innings. Hardly overpowering but exceedingly effective, Zito struck out just one batter, yet induced three double-play grounders.

Zito, who said that the interruption in the game tested him more than his altered pitching schedule, intended to honor his commitment.

"I wanted to pitch, since I agreed to pitch on three days' rest and I wanted to uphold my agreement," said Zito, who related that he maintained his concentration during the delay by retreating to the trainer's room and listening to music -- chiefly 19-year-old rapper Mac Miller.

"You've got the three days' rest, you've got the long rain delay and a tough [Detroit] lineup -- to keep his focus, what a job he did," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Third baseman Miguel Tejada, who played in Oakland with Zito when the left-hander ranked among the American League's most dominant pitchers, believed that his longtime teammate exuded a renewed intensity.

"I think the man is showing how good he is," Tejada said. "It's time for him to step up and do what he expects."

Zito, who's 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA since recovering from his sprained right foot, politely disagreed.

"I'm not determined to prove myself to anybody," said Zito, who's striving to shed the albatross that his seven-year, $126-million deal represents. "I'm determined to do the things I can do. Trying to prove myself to the world, that's energy I don't need to waste. As long as I please myself, everything should be all right."

Zito received ample support as the Giants scored a season-high run total for the second time on their two-city trip. Tejada, who was on deck when the deluge hit Comerica Park, belted his 12th career grand slam on the first pitch he saw from Tigers reliever Brayan Villareal to cap San Francisco's second five-run inning of the night.

"Actually, I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like to swing at the first pitch very much," Tejada said -- an odd remark for a renowned free swinger.

San Francisco's other five-run outburst occurred in the first inning, when Pablo Sandoval crushed a two-run, opposite-field homer and Brandon Crawford yanked a three-run blast. Sandoval's seventh homer of the season lengthened his hitting streak to 13 games.

Bochy said that as Sandoval's early May surgery to remove a fractured hamate bone recedes farther into the past, "I think he's going to get stronger and stronger."

Crawford's homer was his first since he hit a grand slam in his Major League debut on May 27 at Milwaukee. First baseman Aubrey Huff, batting .194 (7-for-36) in his previous 10 games, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Every Giants starter collected at least one hit, and each scored except for catcher Eli Whiteside, who stroked a two-run double in the sixth inning. It was that kind of night for San Francisco. Virtually every player contributed.

Particularly Zito. Comments