SAN FRANCISCO -- The theme of Friday's pregame championship ceremony, capped by a half-dozen Giants raising the banner, was clear: The Giants won a title by having all 25 guys pull on the same rope.
While that's true, this is still a franchise that at its core is built on pitching, pitching and more pitching. In the season's first week, that pitching has overwhelmed two of the National League favorites.
Barry Zito took the spotlight Friday at AT&T Park, throwing seven shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals and continuing a startling streak. Through four games, the Giants starting staff has yet to allow an earned run, becoming just the second team in recorded MLB history to pull off the feat.
"They're making my job pretty easy right now," catcher Buster Posey said, smiling.
Manager Bruce Bochy could only shake his head. He has seen this staff dominate before, but the Giants weren't sure if their starters would be able to replicate their past form after a lengthy 2012 season that was taxing on all arms. Through 26 combined innings, they've been as good as ever.
"It's unbelievable," Bochy said. "We know that it's amazing and we can't expect that (all the time), but it's a credit to how good they are. That's our strength, and hopefully these guys keep doing what they've been doing."
Zito matched the 0.00 ERAs of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum by making the Cardinals play the same guessing game that they flunked in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series a year ago. He mixed speeds masterfully and gave up just three hits (two of which were wiped out by double-plays) and struck out four.
The victory was the Giants' 15th straight with Zito on the mound, counting the postseason. Since he lost to the New York Mets on Aug. 2 of last year, the resurgent left-hander is 10-0.
"He's throwing his pitches with conviction," Posey said. "He's picking the right time to try to nibble at the corners and picking the right time to attack."
Given the honor of pitching the home opener, Zito didn't get to join Cain, Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo, Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan as they ascended a staircase in center field, walked through the stands and took turns pulling on a rope that raised the 2012 championship banner.
But he heard the cheers when his name was announced, and he soaked in a standing ovation and chants of "Barry! Barry!" when he exited after seven innings. It was a similar performance to his gem against the Cardinals in the NLCS, but Zito did his best to downplay the significance.
"I would never say I have anyone's number," he said. "This game is too crazy and too volatile to get up on my haunches."
Friday's game showed just how crazy the twists and turns have been for the Giants the past two seasons. They left 11 men on base but took the lead when Jake Westbrook and the Cardinals briefly lost their focus. A walk and single set Zito up for the sacrifice with one out in the fourth, and when he put a bunt down right in front of Yadier Molina, the Gold Glove catcher flubbed the play. With the bases now loaded, Westbrook walked Pagan, pushing across the game's only run.
The Giants, as they did during their NLCS comeback, kept it clean. Pablo Sandoval made several outstanding defensive plays to support Zito, and the bullpen pitched two perfect innings. After relieving Jeremy Affeldt and picking up his third save in four games, Romo pointed out that the Giants will throw Vogelsong, at times their best starter last year, at the Cardinals on Saturday.
"What a way to start off our season," he said.
St. Louis (Shelby Miller) at Giants (Ryan Vogelsong), 1:05 p.m., FOX
Purdy: Everyone has a hand in Giants' championship celebration.
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