San Francisco benefited from a costly error by St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn during a four-run fourth to survive an elimination game in the National League Championship Series, reducing its deficit in the best-of-seven battle to 3-2.
After a day off, the Giants will host Game 6 Sunday. A deciding game, if needed, would be played Monday in San Francisco. The eventual survivor will take on the Detroit Tigers in the World Series beginning Wednesday.
Zito has spent all of his 13 major league seasons in the San Francisco Bay area. He played the first seven of those seasons with Oakland and never had a losing campaign while with the Athletics, winning the Cy Young Award in 2002.
He came to the Giants in 2007 and had five consecutive losing seasons before posting a 15-8 record in 2012, during which he produced his first complete-game shutout in nine years.
Zito was sent to the mound Friday with San Francisco's season on the line and he scattered six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. His teammates lined up to congratulate him when he left the game with two away and one man on base in the eighth.
Zito threw 115 pitches in recording his first post-season victory in his six seasons with the Giants.
San Francisco scraped out only six hits against five St. Louis pitchers, but four of them came during the fourth inning while the Giants were sending 10 men to the plate.
With runners on first and third and one away in the fourth, Hunter Pence hit a grounder back to the mound and Lynn threw to second in hopes of starting a double play.
The throw was wild, however, allowing one run to score. One out later Lynn walked Gregor Blanco to load the bases, Brandon Crawford followed with a two-run single and Zito helped his own cause with a bunt single that brought home the fourth run of the inning. All of the runs were unearned.
Pablo Sandoval accounted for the game's final score with a homer in the eighth.
St. Louis right fielder Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup Friday after missing Game 4 of the series on Thursday with a strained knee. He went 1-for-4.