One night after Lincecum's six-hit gem, Zito struck out 10 in eight dominant innings of two-hit ball to help the San Francisco Giants beat New York 1-0 on Friday.
"That just goes to show how good our pitching staff is," said Aubrey Huff, who had three hits and scored the lone run on a fielder's choice grounder in the fourth. "If we can just scratch across a few here and there we have a great chance of winning every night."
All-Star closer Brian Wilson completed the three-hitter for San Francisco, which has won four straight and nine of 11. But this was Zito's night.
The left-hander matched his season high for strikeouts and allowed only one runner past first base while winning for the first time in more than a month. He faced just three batters more than the minimum before Wilson earned his 24th save.
It was in sharp contrast to Zito's previous start, when he was pulled after 4 2/3 innings against Milwaukee on July 8.
"I think it's just being aggressive and attacking these guys from the first pitch, not waiting till you get into a tough situation," Zito said. "It's huge for us to capitalize on games when we're not putting up five [runs] like we've been used to recently. It just makes it that much better when we do."
It also helps to face a team like New York, which is struggling on offense even more than San Francisco.
Despite the return of cleanup batter Carlos Beltran, the Mets haven't scored in two games since the All-Star break. Both times, they faced a Cy Young Award winner.
"You can say that [Zito] pitched really well, but I still believe at some point that we have to unlock this offense a little bit," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I didn't see us have very many opportunities or very many good swings at him. We've got to do a better job."
Zito, who won the AL Cy Young Award with Oakland in 2002, hadn't made it out of the sixth inning in his previous four starts but was in control while keeping New York's offense quiet. His performance, coming on the heels of Lincecum's 2-0 win Thursday night, ended a streak of three straight no-decisions for the Giants' lefty and gave him his first win since Zito beat his former team, the Athletics, on June 12.
"Superb," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "Great stuff, command, everything ... and we needed it. That's one of his best games. He really stayed in command the whole game."
Manuel tried shaking up his lineup, moving left fielder Jason Bay to second in the batting order, but it didn't matter against Zito.
Zito struck out every Mets batter except Beltran and Jeff Francoeur, and had at least one strikeout in each of the first seven innings.
Beltran's two-out double in the seventh was the only other hit Zito allowed.
David Wright singled with two outs in the ninth before Wilson struck out Beltran on a 97 mph fastball.
"We faced Cy Young yesterday, Cy Young today. They know what they're doing," Beltran said. "At the same time, we feel as a team we need to push a little bit harder. If we stay healthy as a team we're going to be fine."
Jonathon Niese (6-4) was the hard-luck loser for New York, shut out for the third time in four games. The Mets have scored nine runs in their last seven, going 2-5 during that stretch.
New York turned three double plays in the first five innings and four overall to keep things close.
- The Mets pushed RHP Mike Pelfrey's next start to Monday after he complained of stiffness in his neck following a flight to San Francisco earlier in the week. Hisanori Takahashi (7-3) will start Saturday in Pelfrey's place.
- All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes was kept out of the lineup again because of pain in his right side. He participated in batting practice Friday after taking 30 swings in an indoor batting cage. Manuel said the earliest Reyes will play is Sunday, against a left-hander.
- The Mets recalled INF Justin Turner from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned INF-OF Nick Evans to Double-A Binghamton.
- Giants 2B Freddy Sanchez (flu) was a late scratch.
- A pregame ceremony honoring Giants announcer Jon Miller delayed the start by 25 minutes.
- Posey has matched his career-high 10-game hitting streak.