Homers lift Lincecum, Giants past O's

Homers lift Lincecum, Giants past O's

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' 6-3 victory Wednesday over the Baltimore Orioles looked good in the boxscore. It looked even better amid the broader perspective of the standings and schedule.

San Francisco concluded a 5-1 Interleague homestand in dynamic fashion. Tim Lincecum struck out 10 and won his second start in a row. Brian Wilson recorded his second five-out save in two outings. Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe homered consecutively in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

Yet this game's significance extended beyond individual feats.

The Giants are months away from the juncture of the season when -- assuming they're in postseason contention -- they feel compelled to compare their schedule with those of their division rivals. But the Giants already realize that a succession of formidable opponents awaits them.

Having taken two of three games in this Interleague series from Baltimore, the Major Leagues' worst club (18-48), the Giants proceed this weekend to Toronto, which owns an above-.500 record. Then comes a perceived three-game breather on the road with the Houston Astros, against whom the Giants are 6-0 this season.

That's followed by a stretch that will challenge the Giants' ability to stay at or near the top of the National League West standings. The Houston dates precede what promises to be San Francisco's most competitive homestand of the season: three games apiece against the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants will approach the All-Star break with a rigorous three-city, 11-game trip requiring them to visit division rival Colorado, pitchers' graveyard Milwaukee and the Stephen Strasburg-inspired Washington Nationals.

Every win between now and the break will represent an accomplishment for the Giants. Thus, outlasting the lowly yet plucky Orioles in this series finale bordered on being a necessity.

"You want to pick up every win you can. I don't care who you play," said Huff, who led off the sixth inning by redirecting a Jeremy Guthrie slider into San Francisco Bay for his second "Splash Hit" of the season. "Great example: You fully expect to sweep this team in this series and it didn't happen. Anybody can beat you on any given day. I don't care who you play."

Lincecum (7-2) would agree. He recorded his fourth double-digit strikeout total of the season and 23rd of his career, reflecting his artistry. He also allowed two runs and eight hits while walking four and flinging three wild pitches, reflecting his lingering inconsistency.

The right-hander relied on his typical stubbornness to survive, as Baltimore went 2-for-10 against him with men in scoring position.

"I just tried to stay aggressive and not let [opposing rallies] eat me up," said Lincecum, who turned 26 on Tuesday.

"We got plenty of guys on base but he made the pitches he needed to make. That's why he's a Cy Young winner," said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who went hitless in three at-bats with two runners aboard each time.

Lincecum finished his performance with his only 1-2-3 inning, which concluded frightfully. Miguel Tejada smoked a line drive that forced Lincecum to dive for self-preservation. The ball grazed his right shoulder and skipped toward second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who threw to first base for the out. Stunned, Lincecum remained flattened for a few extra seconds before leaving the field.

"I was more kind of shocked than anything," Lincecum said. "I knew it hit me and I didn't know what to do, so I kind of just laid there and I was like, 'OK, I'm fine, I can get up now.'"

Once Lincecum departed, the biggest pitches were made by Wilson, whose 18th save in 20 opportunities was also his third that spanned 1 2/3 innings. He stranded runners on the corners to end the eighth and preserve a 4-3 edge, then breezed through a perfect ninth after Travis Ishikawa's RBI single and Nate Schierholtz padded the Giants' lead.

Wilson admitted that saves lasting more than one inning remain a novelty for him, though he fashioned his previous one against the A's just last Saturday.

"I didn't necessarily think I'd be coming in with one out, but obviously I was prepared for that situation," he said. "And I'm glad [manager Bruce Bochy] went to me. That kind of stuff, you start building confidence."

The Giants' confidence rose after Huff and Uribe each collected their 11th home runs of the season in the sixth, duplicating a back-to-back act they performed last Sunday against Oakland. Huff believes that he and Uribe bolster each other when one follows the other in the batting order.

"Pitchers actually have to challenge me when I get into a hitter's count. You have to respect him behind me," Huff said.

With 15 victories in their last 22 games, the Giants are earning more respect quite steadily.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.