DENVER (AP) Barry Zito threw a four-hitter for his first shutout in nine years and Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run homer to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 7-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday.
Zito (1-0), who hasn’t lost to Colorado since Sept. 25, 2008 _ a span of nine starts _ allowed three harmless singles and a double. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out four in tossing his fifth career shutout and first since April 18, 2003, against Texas.
The lefty worked quickly and efficiently after Sandoval gave him all the support he’d need with a two-run shot over the right field wall in the first inning off Jhoulys Chacin (0-1).
The Giants avoided their first 0-4 start since 1950 by combining the strong pitching, offense and defense they expect will help them contend for the NL West crown. They had started the season with three straight one-run losses at Arizona, their first 0-3 start since 1984.
Dogged by poor fielding and a lack of clutch hitting, the Rockies have lost three straight since their season-opening win at Houston.
Brandon Crawford helped ruin the Rockies’ home opener with a three-run double off reliever Matt Reynolds in the fifth that made it 7-0.
Chacin (0-1), who led the Rockies in wins, ERA, innings and strikeouts last season, gave up four runs, all earned, on four hits and five walks in four shaky innings. He was erratic just one day after saying he’d learned a lesson from new teammates Jeremy Guthrie and Jamie Moyer about letting his defense do the dirty work and not trying to get too precise with his pitches.
Sandoval gave San Francisco a 2-0 lead when he stroked Chacin’s flat fastball over the right field wall one pitch after Melky Cabrera reached on a 30-foot infield single.
Both men scored again in the third, when Chacin walked the bases full and then hung a 2-2 curveball that Hector Sanchez hit for an RBI single. Angel Pagan drove in another run with a hard groundout to first to make it 4-0.
Crawford hit a bases-clearing double off Reynolds in the fifth after left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who received his 2011 Gold Glove in pregame ceremonies, committed errors sandwiched around a single by Hector Sanchez.
The Giants have never started 0-4 in the San Francisco era. The last time the franchise lost its first four games was in 1950 when the Giants were still in New York and opened with two-game sweeps at the hands of Boston and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Colorado went 5-13 against San Francisco last year.
Notes: Colorado LHP Drew Pomeranz, who started the season in the minors because the Rockies don’t need a fifth starter until April 15, will start for Double-A Tulsa at Corpus Christi on Tuesday. … The teams take a day off before returning to Coors Field Wednesday night when Guthrie (1-0) faces Tim Lincecum (0-1). … The game was briefly delayed in the fifth while medical personnel carted off a female fan through the left-field tunnel after she was struck in the face by a foul ball off the bat of Michael Cuddyer.