Offense helps Lincecum to win in shaky outing

Starter escapes jams, strikes out seven vs. Rangers

Offense helps Lincecum to win in shaky outing

ANAHEIM -- For a few moments on Tuesday night, it looked like Tim Lincecum had some flashes of his old, Cy Young-winning self.

The Angels right-hander, however, could not put it all together for a consistent outing before being bailed out by the offense in an 8-6 win over the Rangers.

Lincecum picked up his first home win as an Angel, but the line wasn't pretty. He got through five innings of work, giving up five runs (three earned) and battling trouble in just about every frame.

"I found myself always having that leadoff batter on for the most part and having to work backwards from there," Lincecum said. "It's not easy to do that."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia saw the positives -- notably, the seven strikeouts that matched Lincecum's season high.

"[Lincecum] pitched a lot better than his line score, that's for sure," Scioscia said. "I think you saw his ability to get the strikeout tonight. They had a lot of action in some innings, but he pitched his way around it. … Tonight was a step forward for Tim."

At times, Lincecum looked dominant. After loading the bases with one out in the first, he buckled down and got Mitch Moreland and Ryan Rua to chase to get out unscathed. As has rarely been the case in his month with the Angels, Lincecum was able to incorporate his offspeed pitches and draw swings-and-misses.

He couldn't do it consistently enough, however, as pitches found their way over the heart of the plate against a powerful Rangers lineup. Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos was twice the beneficiary, knocking a pair of center-cut pitches -- an 83-mph changeup and an 87-mph fastball -- over the wall for a combined 838 feet.

Six starts into his tenure as an Angel, Lincecum is still trying to figure things out -- notably with command. His stuff is still there, as shown by the swings-and-misses, but he still isn't quite right. Through 28 2/3 innings this season, he's allowed 62 runners to reach on a hit, walk or hit by pitch.

"I still think he's evolving as a pitcher who can't throw 95 mph anymore," Scioscia said.

Lincecum may also still be trying to figure out how his body works after going nearly a year without pitching in the Majors. He missed most of the second half of last season with the Giants due to surgery on his left hip, and didn't make his debut with the Angels until June 18.

Tuesday appeared to be a critical start for Lincecum, who with others such as Tyler Skaggs and Jhoulys Chacin waiting in the wings to join the starting rotation may have been pitching for his job. Now, with right-hander Nick Tropeano on the shelf and possibly in need of Tommy John surgery, he may have some more time to figure it out.

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.