Giants fall in another shaky Lincecum start

Giants fall in another shaky Lincecum start

Giants fall in another shaky Lincecum start
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum's troubles continued, and, unfortunately for the Giants, their winning streak against the Bay Area rival A's didn't.

A come-from-behind, four-run rally by Oakland in the fourth inning stung San Francisco in its 6-2 loss Sunday in the Interleague series finale. As a result, the Giants (21-20) missed out on another three-game sweep of the A's, which also would have been their 12th straight home win against Oakland (21-21), and their first sweep of an opponent this season. San Francisco hadn't lost against the A's here since June 15, 2008.

Those postgame notes are more easily explainable than Lincecum's woes in the game and this year. Now 2-4 with a 6.04 ERA, he exited after the rough fourth inning that included a wild pitch that led to him being knocked over in a home-plate collision. He allowed four runs on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts, the sixth game he's allowed at least four runs after doing so just seven times all of last season.

Manager Bruce Bochy's explanation: "I don't know if he's losing little confidence in the stretch. ... I think it's more mental, a lack of concentration."

Lincecum was asked whether he agreed with Bochy's assessment.

"No, I don't," Lincecum said. "I've been pretty focused throughout the whole game. It's just a matter of executing pitches. They're making me pay for those mistakes."

Despite scoring a run apiece in the second and third innings, the Giants lost for the seventh time in Lincecum's nine starts. He entered tied for the second-most wild pitches (four) in the National League and, this time, the one in the fourth literally hurt him.

Lincecum struggled to throw strikes almost as soon as the frame started. With one out, he surrendered back-to-back singles, walked Daric Barton to load the bases, allowed an RBI single by Kurt Suzuki and a two-RBI, broken-bat single by Collin Cowgill that gave Oakland a 3-2 lead. Starter Bartolo Colon then reached on a fielder's-choice bunt.

With Cowgill at second, Lincecum threw a wild pitch to Jemile Weeks. Catcher Buster Posey couldn't find the ball quickly, which allowed Cowgill time to race toward home. Posey finally tossed the ball to Lincecum, Cowgill slid headfirst, Lincecum went low to apply the tag and there was a collision. The ball flew out of Lincecum's glove, Cowgill was safe and the pitcher was forcefully sent backward. The result was not as bad as the play looked.

"I just hyperextended my thumb in my catching hand, nothing bad," Lincecum said. "Just rattled a little bit on the collision there, but nothing bad."

After an official delay in which a trainer visited Lincecum, he walked Weeks and got Cliff Pennington to pop out and end the inning.

In the bottom of the frame, Nate Schierholtz pinch-hit for Lincecum, whose day was ended, Bochy said, because he had thrown 90 pitches.

"Just missing pitches, execution of pitches," said Lincecum, explaining the fourth. "The walk didn't help. Just some unlucky stuff here and there."

Right-handed reliever Shane Loux entered in the fifth inning and stayed through the seventh, when Josh Reddick blasted a two-run shot over the wall, dead center, to extend the Oakland lead to 6-2.

The Giants were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and even loaded the bases in the fifth with one out, but Colon struck out the red-hot Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt. Colon (4-4) left after five on a high note, the Giants mustering six hits and drawing two walks while striking out seven times against him.

Melky Cabrera went 4-for-4, totaling half of the Giants hits against five Oakland pitchers.

In the top of the ninth, after Weeks had just walked, a moment occurred that probably hadn't for a handful of years:

With the some of the Giants fans, and their brooms, already out of AT&T Park, A's fans started -- or, it could be said, were allowed to start -- a "Let's Go Oakland!" chant. San Francisco fans busted out their "Let's Go Giants!" chant, and it went back and forth, perfectly balanced, for a good minute.

Balanced. Which, to be fair, has not been the case with regard to wins and losses in this series at this ballpark in a while.

Pagan, who went 1-for-4 with a double to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, was asked about losing out on what could have been the momentum of a sweep going into a seven-game road trip beginning Monday.

"We won the series, my man," he responded.

Willie Bans is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.