Lincecum's strong start goes unrewarded

Lincecum's strong start goes unrewarded

Lincecum's strong start goes unrewarded
SAN FRANCISCO -- As has been the case regularly this season, Tim Lincecum was a loser Wednesday night. But he didn't pitch like one.

Lincecum surrendered two runs (one earned) and four hits in seven innings, an admirable performance under any circumstance. Unfortunately for Lincecum and the Giants, one of the hits he yielded was Paul Goldschmidt's tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning that helped lift the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4-1 triumph.

The evening offered some consolation for the Giants. After going hitless in three at-bats against Arizona starter Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera singled off reliever David Hernandez with two outs in the eighth inning. That was Cabrera's 51st hit in May, tying the San Francisco-era record for one month that Randy Winn set in September 2005.

"It's been amazing, really amazing, what he has done this month," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

By contrast, Lincecum's May featured an 0-4 record and a 5.88 ERA. Wednesday's outcome lengthened his personal losing streak to four decisions while the Giants fell to 2-9 in his starts.

"I still took the 'L,' so that's a negative right there," Lincecum said.

But unlike other outings, his performance featured quality and conveyed hope. He pitched into the seventh inning for just the third time this season. And his fastball reached 91 mph on AT&T Park's velocity readings as late as his final inning.

Thus, Bochy had minimal business to conduct when he ambled to the mound after Lincecum walked Gerardo Parra to put D-backs on the corners with two outs in the seventh inning.

"He said he felt great. That's what I wanted to hear," Bochy said. "The way he was throwing the ball, that was his game."

"He pretty much just let me know that he has confidence in me," said Lincecum, who ended the inning by inducing Willie Bloomquist's first-pitch fly to right.

To some extent, Lincecum performed like the ace upon whom the Giants have relied since 2008. He threw a dynamic first inning, striking out Parra to open the game and fanning Justin Upton for the third out.

"We're so behind Timmy," Bochy said. "He's a guy we want out there."

Declaring Lincecum completely free from whatever's nagging him would be premature, however. He entered the game tied for second in the National League with 29 walks and added five (one intentional) to that total.

"That just shows I'm not really committed to a pitch at certain times," Lincecum said of his free passes. "So I'm just trying to get that back and focus on every pitch."

Lincecum (2-6) avoided the multiple-run innings that sabotaged most of his starts and accounted for his pregame ERA of 6.41. But he still couldn't survive Goldschmidt, who has become his primary nemesis. Goldschmidt lined a 1-0 slider into the first row of the left-field stands with two outs in the sixth.

"That's the pitch I'm thinking about right now," Lincecum said after the game.

Goldschmidt's drive ended a 1-1 stalemate and gave him a career .538 batting average (7-for-13) against Lincecum with four homers and six RBIs.

Asked to describe the source of his success against Lincecum, Goldschmidt said, "I wish I knew, because then I'd try to do it all the time."

Goldschmidt added an RBI single off reliever Steve Edlefsen in Arizona's two-run eighth.

Asked whether he hoped he could limit Goldschmidt to an 0-for-4 performance someday, Lincecum said, "I'm not hoping. I'm going to figure it out."

Lincecum's efforts to recapture his magic didn't entirely involve pitching. As he took the mound for the first inning, the public-address system blared MGMT's "Electric Feel," the entrance song he employed through most of his Giants tenure until this year. Lincecum downplayed this development.

"I've been kind of just messing around with my music a little bit this year," he said. "I don't think anybody really noticed. I changed it two or three times. No reason behind it."

Lincecum acknowledged that he felt mentally whole. Others noticed.

"Just before the game, it was, 'Timmy's being his old self,'" he said. "So, hearing those things, you want to hold onto those things from good moments and push yourself into something good. Maybe not necessarily being a goof-off, but just having a good time when I can and trying to be focused when I can."

San Francisco, which won the series' first two games, mustered five hits in 7 2/3 innings against Kennedy (4-5), who lost his previous five starts. It made perfect sense for Kennedy to end his slump against the Giants. The D-backs are 6-0 in his last six starts against San Francisco.

Yet the Giants could feel relieved upon ending a stretch of 20 consecutive games. Despite Lincecum's struggles and injured third baseman Pablo Sandoval's absence, they finished 12-8 in this stretch.

"I really think we came out of it pretty good," Bochy said. "The day off [Thursday] couldn't come at a better time."

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