Zito sharp as Giants stay alive

BARRY ZITO’s first postseason win in six years couldn’t have come at a better time for the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants staved off elimination on the road for the fourth time with a 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, narrowing their deficit in the NL championship series to 2-3.

They rallied from 0-2 deficit against the Cincinnati Reds to win their NL division series by taking the last three games on the road.

Zito was at his best Friday night, shutting down a potent Cardinals line-up in 7 1/3 innings.

”All things considered, you know, there’s definitely some playoff memories there, but they were in a different uniform,” the soft-tossing lefty said after his first playoff win in six years sent the series back to San Francisco.

”This was probably the biggest one for me.”

Game 6 will begin Sunday in the twilight at AT&T Park, with Ryan Vogelsong pitching against the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter.

”I’m sure Carpenter is going to be on top of his game, as always,” Vogelsong said. ”I’m going to have to be sharp because with him on the mound one run can lose a game for you.”

Zito looked like the same guy who won 23 games and the 2002 AL Cy Young Award with the Athletics. He retired 11 batters in a row in one stretch while scattering six hits with six strikeouts.

It was Zito’s fifth postseason win but first since 2006, shortly before he left the A’s and signed a $126 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco. Noli Cruz

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