Lincecum regroups before Giants fall

Lincecum regroups before Giants fall

Lincecum regroups before Giants fall
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' 6-4 loss Friday night to the Milwaukee Brewers separated optimists from pessimists.

The former group, with attitudes as bright as their orange garb (including the Giants themselves), can cite Tim Lincecum's recovery from a rough first inning and San Francisco's comeback from a pair of three-run deficits against estimable Milwaukee right-hander Zack Greinke.

The pessimists, who believe Lincecum's dwindling velocity is a sign of the apocalypse and that none of manager Bruce Bochy's lineups seem to work, would take a darker view of the Giants' fourth consecutive defeat. To them, the Brewers' three-run first inning off Lincecum served as further evidence that the right-hander is declining. And though the Giants rallied, they couldn't throw the knockout punch that the Brewers did when Aramis Ramirez's two-run single off Sergio Romo broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning.

Bochy, of course, belongs to the optimists' club.

"We just have to battle the way we did tonight and we'll find a way to win games," he said.

Lincecum, who issued two walks and hit a batter during the Brewers' first inning, was self-critical without beating himself up too much. In other words, he maintained a professional outlook.

"I'm happy with the way I was able to come out of it, but giving up three at the beginning of the first inning, that's no way to put your team in position to win," said Lincecum, who went unscored upon after the first and surrendered just two hits in five innings. "I definitely take a lot of responsibility for this game, as I should. The starters are supposed to go deep into the games and I haven't, with the exception of one start."

After the second inning, when he left the bases loaded, Lincecum retired to the subterranean batting cage near the Giants' dugout, where video equipment is available for instant feedback. Watching recorded images of himself confirmed to Lincecum that he was rushing his delivery, which caused the excess of inside pitches he threw. Lincecum corrected his flaw and retired the final 10 batters he faced.

"I wasn't really giving my arm a chance to catch up, so balls were flying into the right-handed batter's box," Lincecum said. "So I tried to sit back on my back leg a little bit and used that to drive me toward home plate."

Ramirez praised Lincecum's first-inning tenacity.

"I think we should have scored more, because he was wild," Ramirez said. "It wasn't his best night. But that's what good pitchers do. He battled through it and ended up pitching pretty good."

Lincecum disappeared for pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz in the middle of a fifth-inning uprising when the Giants scored their first run. Bochy didn't exactly second-guess himself -- with one out, runners on second and third and Milwaukee leading 3-1, he had no choice but to bat for Lincecum.

But, Bochy said, "Looking back, I wish I had left him in there, believe me."

Ramirez prompted Bochy's regret. With one out in the seventh, Norichika Aoki and Rickie Weeks beat out infield singles, prompting Romo to replace Clay Hensley (1-3). After Corey Hart's fly to deep center field advanced the runners, Ramirez, who entered the game hitting .207, broke the deadlock by lining an 0-1 pitch into left field.

While Lincecum deviated from his Cy Young Award-winning form immediately, Greinke, who won the honor in 2009 with Kansas City, faltered later. Greinke looked dominant while blanking San Francisco on one hit through the first four innings but couldn't survive the sixth as the Giants forged a 4-4 tie.

Trailing, 3-0, the Giants began their comeback in the fifth inning as consecutive singles by Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt and Joaquin Arias scored a run. Pagan extended his hitting streak to a Major League-high 18 games.

San Francisco pulled even with an entertaining three-run sixth that began with Conor Gillaspie's single, Melky Cabrera's triple and Buster Posey's single. Posey advanced to second on a groundout, moved to third on a passed ball and scored as Belt rapped a grounder through the right side past a diving Weeks, a play that was scored an error.

However, before Belt hit, Pagan hit a slow grounder to third base and was called out, which blunted the Giants' momentum somewhat. Television replays indicated that umpire Ed Rapuano, who received an earful from Bochy, made an incorrect ruling.

"I don't need to see the replay," Bochy said when asked if he had reviewed the event. "You hate to see it happen; it happens. Unfortunately, it went against us. Sure, it's a big call, especially when you're battling to get back in it."

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