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Zito outduels Griffin as Giants top A's

SAN FRANCISCO -- Though two of the Giants' hitters commanded the most attention Friday night at AT&T Park, pitching dominated much of the action as San Francisco outlasted the Oakland A's, 3-1.

As he emerged onto the field to perform his pregame stretching exercises, Giants catcher Buster Posey received a warm ovation from fans who saluted the eight-year, $167 million contract extension that was announced earlier in the day. Posey acknowledged the cheers by tipping his helmet, then gave spectators more to cheer about by singling twice in four at-bats.

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Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval appeared in his first game since March 16, when he began experiencing elbow pain that was diagnosed as irritation in his right ulnar nerve. Sandoval performed as designated hitter and went 0-for-2, hitting a bloop to third base in the first inning and grounding to shortstop in the fourth.

Feeling a little sore, Sandoval was removed for precautionary reasons in favor of pinch-hitter Andres Torres in the sixth inning.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that he understood the gamble in playing Sandoval. If he were to aggravate his injury and go on the disabled list, the Giants wouldn't be able to backdate the start of his DL assignment. That didn't matter to Bochy.

"Sure, there's going to be some risk," Bochy said. "But if something ends up happening, he'll probably need a couple of extra weeks [off] anyway."

Before the game, Sandoval, whose right arm was heavily bandaged, played catch with head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner at a 100-foot distance as Bochy watched closely.

Giants starter Barry Zito, whose next appearance will be San Francisco's April 5 home opener against St. Louis, yielded one run in 5 1/3 innings. Zito left two runners aboard for Chad Gaudin, who ended the threat by inducing Josh Donaldson's popup and slipping a called third strike past Derek Norris on a 3-2 pitch.

A's starter A.J. Griffin blanked the Giants on one hit through four innings before they scored twice with two outs and nobody on base in the fifth. Brandon Crawford's double prolonged the inning for Gregor Blanco's triple off the base of the center-field wall and Nick Noonan's opposite-field RBI single to left.

"I felt pretty good out there," Griffin said. "I was going out there pounding the zone. I was able to stick all of my pitches pretty good and mix it up well. D-No [Norris] was out there calling a great game, and you can't ask for much more than that. Just tried to go out there and have fun and give us a chance to win the ballgame."

Noonan, who found out after the game that he made the Opening Day roster as a utility infielder, added to his night with a triple to lead off the eighth inning and scored on Angel Pagan's single.

Oakland opened the scoring in the fourth. Chris Young walked, advanced on Yoenis Cespedes' single, moved to third on Donaldson's fielder's-choice grounder and came home on Norris' sacrifice fly.

Up Next: San Francisco completes its preseason with a Saturday matinee at Oakland Coliseum. Fifth starter Ryan Vogelsong, who would rank higher in the pecking order on virtually any other staff, will pitch for the Giants. Vogelsong has looked sharp since returning from his stint with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, posting a 2.25 ERA while lasting six innings in each of two starts. The 1:05 p.m. PT affair will be available free on MLB.TV and carried by MLB Network.

Chris Haft is a reporter for

San Francisco Giants, Pablo Sandoval