A victory by the Giants in Wednesday's series finale at AT&T Park would move them into a first-place tie, giving the struggling Dodgers company atop the division for the first time since they took over the lead April 11.
After Barry Zito and a pair of relievers limited Los Angeles (43-32) to five hits in Monday's 8-0 win, Ryan Vogelsong scattered seven hits over seven innings in leading San Francisco (42-33) to a 2-0 victory the next night - the Dodgers' seventh loss in eight games.
While completing a sweep to pull even with their archrival would be a thrill for Giants fans, it could be even more encouraging if scheduled starter Tim Lincecum (2-8, 6.07 ERA) has a strong showing Wednesday.
Lincecum has looked nothing like a two-time Cy Young Award winner during a career-worst 10-start winless streak, and his overall ERA is the second-worst in the majors among qualifying pitchers. The four-time All-Star seemed to be headed toward another disastrous outing Friday in Oakland, falling behind 3-0 in the first inning with the bases still loaded and nobody out.
By his account, he then "got mad in the right way" and proceeded to strike out the side. He pitched the next five innings without allowing another hit before San Francisco rallied in the ninth for a 5-4 win.
"Timmy said enough is enough. He took control, and pitched out of it," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There are not a lot of guys who would do what he did after all he's been through this season."
Although Lincecum didn't get the victory, the Giants finally won with him on the mound after losing his previous nine starts.
Los Angeles has already contributed to Lincecum's struggles this season, and the right-hander hasn't enjoyed much good fortune in the series recently. He yielded four runs and eight hits in five innings of a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers on May 9, falling to 0-4 in his last six starts against them despite a 2.52 ERA.
He'll be facing a Los Angeles team that has plated three runs or fewer in eight of its last nine games - homering once in that stretch - and has been shut out in consecutive games in San Francisco for the first time since Aug. 15 and 16, 1987. Andre Ethier , who ranks second in the NL with 55 RBIs, has gone 11 games without driving in a run.
"You get shut out a couple days and there's frustration," manager Don Mattingly said. "That's natural. It's my job to make sure we keep going."
Mattingly will give the ball to Chad Billingsley (4-6, 4.15), who has an 8.18 ERA in losing his last two starts after posting a 1.29 ERA in winning his first two June outings. Staked to a five-run lead in the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, the right-hander got knocked around for six runs and a season-worst 10 hits in five innings of an 8-5 defeat.
Billingsley opposed Lincecum back in May and wasn't particularly sharp, allowing two runs, seven hits and four walks in four innings. He was 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA in his two starts in San Francisco last season.
Buster Posey , who is 5 for 10 with two homers and four RBIs in his last three games, is 10 for 22 with two doubles against Billingsley.
|Tony Gwynn Jr.||18||.222||4||0||1||1||3||.263||.485||.222|
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||1||.000||0||0||0||1||1||.500||.500||.000|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|June 03, 2012||Javy Guerra||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|May 31, 2012||Matt Kemp||15-Day DL||Re-aggravated strained left hamstring|
|May 30, 2012||Matt Kemp||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|May 24, 2012||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Left shoulder inflammation|
|May 23, 2012||Justin Sellers||15-Day DL||Bulging disc in lower back|
|May 19, 2012||Mark Ellis||15-Day DL||Sprained left knee|
|San Francisco Giants|
|June 14, 2012||Aubrey Huff||Day-to-Day||Sprained right knee|
|June 11, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|June 07, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right hamstring|
|June 02, 2012||Santiago Casilla||Day-to-Day||Bruised knee|
|May 16, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left toe|
|May 16, 2012||Joaquin Arias||Day-to-Day||Left forearm contusion|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Tim Lincecum threw his 167-pound body in front of the plate to save a run. He pounded the strike zone like the Lincecum of old. More than anything, he pitched the San Francisco Giants into first place while winning again at last.
The Freak's funk is over - for now anyway.
Lincecum won for the first time in nearly two months to end the worst drought of his career, and the Giants held the Dodgers scoreless for the third straight game in a 3-0 win Wednesday.
Back in the clubhouse once his day was done, he joked with strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan.
"I was like, `Winning,' and he goes, `It's a lot better than losing,"' Lincecum said. "That's the easiest way to put it. ... To be able to sweep the Dodgers, throw three shutouts and be in the position we're in says a lot about us."
Angel Pagan added an RBI single and drew a bases-loaded walk to back Lincecum (3-8) as the Giants moved into a tie with Los Angeles for first place in the NL West by getting just their second sweep of the season. It was the first time in franchise history they shut out the Dodgers in a three-game series, a run spanning 123 seasons.
Lincecum struck out eight and walked two while outpitching Chad Billingsley (4-7). The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner ended a career-long 10-start winless stretch in which he went a career-worst 0-6.
His victory came one day shy of two months after his last win, April 28 against San Diego.
Lincecum got focused, and he just plain got mad about his poor pitching. This outstanding outing helped the Giants take a division lead for the first time since last Aug. 9.
Facing a depleted Dodgers lineup didn't hurt. Already missing All-Star Matt Kemp , the Dodgers lost Andre Ethier after one at-bat to a left oblique injury that could land him on the disabled list.
"But getting shut out three days in a row hurts a lot more than this," said Ethier, scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.
Lincecum struck out two in a 1-2-3 second, and calmly punched his pitching hand into his glove as he walked off the mound. He had gone 0-4 in his previous six starts against the Dodgers since his last victory on July 30, 2010.
The Dodgers were swept in the Bay Area for the second time in as many weeks after losing three straight at Oakland from June 19-21, scoring two total runs over the six games here.
"It's been a long nine days," catcher A.J. Ellis said.
Melky Cabrera had an RBI double and Brandon Crawford tripled among his three hits in San Francisco's first three-game sweep of the Dodgers at AT&T Park since July 30-Aug. 1, 2010.
Pitching to cheers of "Come on, Timmy!" Lincecum also made a run-saving play that drew a standing ovation in the third.
After Billingsley doubled off the wall in center for his sixth hit in 25 at-bats this season, he moved to third on a wild pitch. Lincecum threw another wild pitch that got past catcher Hector Sanchez and reached the backstop. The pitcher covered home, blocked the plate and tagged out Billingsley. His glove was knocked loose, but Lincecum held onto it and made the play with his left hand.
"It's funny how the ugly thing kind of worked out to a pretty cool thing," Lincecum said. "I didn't want him to get a run. I'm not much to go through but he was going to have to go through me to get to the plate."
Lincecum allowed only one more runner past first. Sergio Romo recorded the final four outs for his fourth save in as many tries.
Lincecum came to the plate to roars from the sellout crowd of 42,245 in the third and hit a one-out single down the left-field line. He scored on Cabrera's double.
Buster Posey then walked to load the bases and Pagan walked to force home a run, which brought pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to the mound for a visit with Billingsley.
Billingsley lost his third straight start, tagged for three runs and nine hits in six innings.
Lincecum, who settled down Friday at Oakland after falling behind 3-0 in the first inning and showed positive signs the next four, ran his scoreless innings streak to 12.
Manager Bruce Bochy visited Lincecum after a seventh-inning walk to Ellis put runners on first and second with one out, but drew cheers when Lincecum stayed in the game to retire the next two batters.
After Lincecum told Bochy "Yeah" he was fine to stay in the game, he followed that up with a stronger "Yes, sir." It worked.
"I think he has returned to the Timmy of before," said Sanchez, catching Lincecum for the second straight start.
Sanchez stayed in the game after landing hard on his left arm, hip and ribs while making a diving catch of a foul popup by Herrera for the first out in the fourth.
Ethier was removed before the bottom of the first after injuring his side muscle on a check swing.
Notes: Giants starting pitchers have allowed one earned run in their last 31 innings. ... Juan Uribe , 1-for-21 during the road trip, returned to the Los Angeles lineup and went 0-for-3. ... Dodgers 2B Mark Ellis will head on a rehab assignment Saturday to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga if his baserunning goes well Thursday. He's likely to play four or five games and get 20 at-bats. "I'm anxious," Ellis said. "I don't think I've ever gotten a hit in a rehab game. You just want to get back with the team." ... Wednesday marked the 32nd anniversary of Jerry Reuss ' no-hitter for the Dodgers against the Giants at Candlestick Park. ... LHP Madison Bumgarner looks to become the Giants' first 10-game winner of 2012 when he pitches the series opener Thursday night against Cincinnati and former San Francisco skipper Dusty Baker