When the San Francisco Giants signed Barry Zito to the then-richest contract for a pitcher in major league history prior to the 2007 season, they believed the former Cy Young Award winner from across the bay would anchor their rotation for years to come.
Now considered one of the biggest free-agent busts ever, Zito is limping toward the end of what could be his final season with the disappointing defending champions.
The Giants will attempt to win for the first time in Zito's 11 road starts as he looks to help send the San Diego Padres to a fourth straight defeat Monday afternoon.
Zito won the 2002 AL Cy Young Award during a solid seven-year run with Oakland before signing a seven-year, $126 million contract with San Francisco. He hasn't quite lived up to that deal, though, going 62-79 with a 4.62 ERA in 195 starts and 10 relief appearances in the regular season.
The left-hander made four appearances out of the bullpen in August, but his return to the rotation hasn't brought any better results. Zito (4-10, 5.81 ERA) allowed six runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 12-1 loss to Boston on Aug. 21 before giving up five runs in four frames of last Monday's 6-1 defeat at Colorado.
He's pitched fewer than five innings in each of his last five starts, going 0-4 with an 11.21 ERA. He's 0-8 with a 10.10 ERA in 10 road starts this season - all Giants losses - tossing fewer than six innings in each.
Zito has an $18 million team option for 2014, though the Giants could buy him out for $7 million.
"I don't know. I don't know,'' said Zito, who went 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three 2012 playoff starts. "I've looked at tape of my starts in the playoffs and my starts this year. I've made more pitches this year without the results.''
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA in four starts versus the Padres this season after giving up four runs - including solo homers to Chris Denorfia, Nick Hundley and Will Venable - in two innings of a 10-1 loss at San Diego on July 14.
That defeat ended San Francisco's five-game winning streak over the Padres (60-76), who scored just four runs while being swept by Los Angeles over the weekend.
While San Diego mustered only three hits in Sunday's 2-1 defeat, the Giants (61-75) took two of three from Arizona by winning 8-2. Buster Posey and Hunter Pence each finished with three hits and two RBIs.
Posey is hitting .478 over his last six versus the Padres, who send Ian Kennedy to the mound.
Kennedy (5-9, 5.10) has been inconsistent in five starts with the Padres since being acquired from Arizona, going 2-1 with a 4.55 ERA. After striking out eight in seven scoreless innings to beat Pittsburgh 2-1 on Aug. 21, he allowed six runs and walked five in 4 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 10-9, 10-inning loss to the Diamondbacks.
The right-hander is 6-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 16 career starts against the Giants, giving up two runs in six innings of a 2-0 loss the last time he faced them while with Arizona on July 19.