Zito looks for return to winning ways

Zito looks for return to winning ways

Fresh off a perfect eight-pitch inning of work in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, A's lefty Barry Zito will get his first start of the regular season's second half on Friday when he takes on Red Sox righty Josh Beckett in the second game of a four-game set at Fenway Park.

Zito, whom many teammates selected as Oakland's first-half Most Valuable Player, has lost his past three starts despite posting a 2.91 ERA over that span.

"What we've done to 'Z' in terms of run support at times this year has been criminal," said catcher Jason Kendall. "We've cost him at least five wins."

Zito, however, insists that the lack of support -- the A's have scored a total of three runs in his six losses this year -- hasn't bothered him.

"It's a team game, and what bothers me isn't me not getting wins," he said. "It's the team getting losses."

Pitching matchup
OAK: LHP Barry Zito (8-6, 3.29 ERA)
Zito has never lost four consecutive starting assignments in his big-league career.

BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (11-4, 4.75 ERA)
Beckett leads all of baseball with 26 home runs allowed this season.

Player to watch
A's outfielder Milton Bradley is expected to return from the disabled list on Friday and start in right field. He's 1-for-4 with a double and three walks in his career against Beckett.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• KICU-36/Cable-6

On radio
• KYCY 1550-AM/KNTS 1220-AM

Up next
• Saturday: A's (RHP Dan Haren, 6-7, 3.52) at Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 10-3, 3.60), 4:05 p.m. PT
• Sunday: A's (RHP Joe Blanton, 8-8, 4.95) at Red Sox (RHP Tim Wakefield, 7-8, 4.05), 11:05 a.m. PT
• Monday: A's (RHP Kirk Saarloos, 3-5, 5.33) at Orioles (RHP Russ Ortiz, 0-6, 7.88) 4:05 p.m. PT

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.