Giants held in check as Lincecum struggles

Giants held in check as Lincecum struggles

Giants held in check as Lincecum struggles
SAN FRANCISCO -- The momentum of the Giants' recent five-game winning streak and offensive success continued to stall Sunday night, and the Giants dropped their second straight game to the Braves, 7-1, to split the four-game series.

The Giants couldn't get much of anything going against a dominant Tim Hudson, who held them in check for just five singles in seven innings as they were again shut down by effective Braves starting pitching.

Hudson beat out fellow undersized pitcher Tim Lincecum, who matched his career high by picking up his 14th loss of the season. Lincecum labored through five innings, including a two-run first, as he routinely fell behind batters early in the game.

"He was fighting himself quite a bit," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He was out of sync out there. We even talked about it during the game that he felt like he was going too quick and couldn't get in rhythm out there. I don't know if he was overamped in the first inning, but he was having trouble getting the ball where he wanted."

Lincecum said he was fighting himself to find his rhythm from the very beginning, and it showed in a 32-pitch first inning. He fell behind in the count to six of the seven batters he faced, and the Braves jumped to an early lead as Martin Prado grounded into a forceout with the bases loaded to allow Michael Bourn to score. Brian McCann followed with a bloop single that dropped in shallow center to drive in Jason Heyward as the Braves took a 2-0 first-inning lead.

"You always feel like you could have avoided it if you made better pitches, so when a run does score on a bloop, you end up just blaming yourself," Lincecum said. "You just go back to the chalk board of 'What did I need to do better in that inning to make it better?' I was just getting behind 2-0 on everybody and I wasn't really attacking the zone in that first inning."

Lincecum proceeded to give up a solo home run to Juan Francisco in the fourth and was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth. The outing came after enjoying a mostly strong August, and he was charged with three earned runs on five hits in five innings, striking out four and walking two.

Hudson, on the other hand, interchangeably used his sinker and cutter as he took advantage of the shadows from the late-afternoon sunset in an efficient outing.

"It was a day where you definitely had to come out and pound the strike zone," Hudson said. "It wasn't exactly easy to see from a hitter's point of view. It was my job to pound the strike zone and try to make them hurt me that way and not give them free passes."

In his last four starts against the Giants, the 37-year-old Hudson has gone 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA.

"You know you're going to have your work cut out when you're facing him, and he had a good game," Bochy said. "He was on top of his game. It seemed like it was strike one on every hitter. That's how you want to pitch."

The Braves tacked on four more runs against the Giants bullpen, including back-to-back home runs from Heyward and Freddie Freeman in the ninth inning off Clay Hensley. Heyward went deep in the last three games against the Giants and now has six home runs and 12 RBIs in 10 career games at AT&T Park.

The Giants split the series at home after winning five of six on the road and will head now out for another six-game road trip. Lincecum has lost four of his last five starts at AT&T Park.

"Maybe at times we may press a little bit more here," Lincecum said. "We know the atmosphere here, we know we're going to sell out. We want to show them that they're here for a reason, give them something to cheer about. When you go on the road, you relax a little bit."

The game marked the final regular-season game against the Giants for Chipper Jones, who got a standing ovation from the AT&T Park crowd before his pinch-hit at-bat in the eighth inning.

The Giants failed to capitalize on the Dodgers' 6-2 loss to the Marlins on Sunday, and they head into Monday's off-day with a two-game advantage in the National League West standings.

Jay Lee is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.