Crawford's slam backs solid start by Lincecum

Crawford's slam backs solid start by Lincecum

Crawford's slam backs solid start by Lincecum
PHILADELPHIA -- This was the rarest of Giants games: Though Tim Lincecum pitched, he didn't dominate the storyline.

Lincecum continued his apparent resurgence by winning on the road for the first time since April 23. But he shared the spotlight with Brandon Crawford, whose sixth-inning grand slam Friday night propelled the Giants to a 7-2 triumph over the Phillies.

Crawford has been essential to the Giants' 3-1 record on this two-city trip. The suddenly slugging shortstop also hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in Wednesday's 11th inning at Atlanta to facilitate another win. His clout off Phillies starter Vance Worley capped a five-run sixth for the Giants that shattered a 1-1 deadlock. Crawford also lined a run-scoring single in the eighth, giving him a career-high five RBIs.

That provided more than enough support for Lincecum (4-10), who entered the game with a 0-5 record and a 9.17 ERA in his last six outings away from AT&T Park. He limited Philadelphia to two runs and five hits in seven innings, sustaining the effectiveness he established with eight shutout innings Saturday against Houston.

Lincecum again declared that mastering his fastball was the source of his success.

"If it weren't for my fastball command, those guys might have been sitting on my offspeed [pitches] and crushing them," he said. "... I'm not saying by any means that 'I'm back.' I'm just trying to get back to that consistency and use it as my springboard."

That consistency is a shared trait. Giants starters have limited opponents to two earned runs or fewer in all seven games since the All-Star break, contrasting with the 4.85 road ERA the entire staff owned before the break and hastening the club's rise to first place in the National League West.

Timely hits such as Crawford's have complemented San Francisco's improved pitching.

The Giants began their big sixth by loading the bases with nobody out on singles by Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera and a walk to Buster Posey. Pablo Sandoval's sacrifice fly scored Theriot, who matched a season high with four hits, before Nate Schierholtz walked to refill the bases. Up came Crawford, who lined an 0-1 pitch into the right-field stands.

"I was looking for a pitch that I could hit in the air for a sacrifice fly which would get a run in, and it went out," Crawford said.

Manager Bruce Bochy explained that Crawford has cured himself of overstriding at the plate, helping him hit .308 (16-for-52) in his last 18 games.

Of Crawford's six career homers, two are grand slams -- his first came in his Major League debut on May 27, 2011, at Milwaukee, also in support of Lincecum -- and two are three-run homers. That's almost as unlikely a statistic as the Phillies' 17-28 home record and six consecutive defeats at Citizens Bank Park.

Known more for his defense, Crawford executed a gem to open the seventh inning when he dove for Placido Polanco's grounder up the middle and threw from his knees to record the out at first base.

"Off the bat, I wanted it," Crawford said. "That's basically how I go about any ground ball. I want to get to every ground ball I can and try to make a play on it."

Said Lincecum, "I gave him a golf clap right after that."

The Phillies gave Lincecum compliments.

"He's always a tough pitcher, but he mixed it up," said first baseman Ryan Howard, who homered off Lincecum in the sixth after going 0-for-2.

Manager Charlie Manuel compared this outing to Lincecum's April 16 appearance against the Phillies, who scored four first-inning runs off him that night.

"He had a better fastball tonight," Manuel said. "He was mostly 89-93 [mph]. He touched 94. The last time out I didn't see that. ... I thought he changed speeds good tonight. I thought he was locating. Any time you can locate, especially changeups and stuff like that, we have trouble with you."

A third-inning incident reflected Lincecum's renewed ease. He fielded Worley's comebacker, threw to first base and started striding toward the dugout, mistakenly believing he had assisted on the inning's final out. Only two were down. Lincecum quickly returned to the mound, grinning sheepishly.

Earlier in the season, Lincecum might have yielded a flurry of two-out runs. This time, he escaped the inning without harm.

"I just thought it was kind of a funny situation," he said, expressing amusement with the crowd's reaction. "They were kind of like, all together, 'What the hell's this guy's doing? He's an idiot.'"

Lincecum endured a messy fourth, yet limited the Phillies to a single run. Shane Victorino and Chase Utley singled, putting Phillies on the corners, before Lincecum committed a balk by slipping off of his back foot as he delivered a pitch to Howard. That scored Victorino. Lincecum then loaded the bases by issuing two-out walks to Hunter Pence and Juan Pierre, which prompted a visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti.

"Pretty much all he said to me was, 'Hey, go get this next guy. You're doing fine. Just stick with it,' " Lincecum said. The next guy was Polanco, who grounded into a force play at third.

"I'm just trying to buckle down in crunch situations and not worry about what bad things can happen, which is what I've been doing earlier," Lincecum said.

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