The difference for these teams - both expected to contend for division titles - is that the Giants have moved into first place while the Phillies have remained in last.
San Francisco's chances of staying atop the NL West will be even better if Tim Lincecum 's first start following the break was a sign of a second-half turnaround, something he'll look to continue Friday night in Philadelphia.
The Giants (51-41) returned from the break to win a season-high five in a row, passing the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division lead. That advantage dipped to 2 1/2 and their streak ended with a 3-2 defeat in Atlanta on Thursday.
"You take it," said manager Bruce Bochy , whose starting staff has a 1.09 ERA since the break. "That's what you try to do, take series. It's hard to do."
It seemed the Phillies (41-52) might be set for a second-half run with the recent returns of Chase Utley , Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay . The five-time reigning NL East champions had won four straight before Jonathan Papelbon blew a two-run lead in the 10th inning of a 5-3, 12-inning loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday.
"We've got to stay positive and, look at the bigger picture, and realize that we came out of the All-Star break taking two series on the road," Papelbon said. "This was the kind of start that we needed."
Papelbon, though, has a 6.97 ERA over his past 10 appearances, blowing three of seven save chances after converting his first 17 in a Phillies uniform. The Philadelphia bullpen has a major league-worst 7.20 ERA in July.
Lincecum (3-10, 5.93 ERA) entered last weekend with the worst ERA of all qualifying pitchers. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner pitched 3 1-3 innings in each of his final two outings before the All-Star game, getting tagged for 14 runs and 16 hits.
Maybe the break benefited the right-hander, who had his best outing of the year Saturday with a season-high 11 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings of a 3-2, 12-inning win over Houston.
"I'm going to take the small steps as they come," said Lincecum, 1-6 with a 9.00 ERA in 10 road starts. "Even though we won I'm going to go home and reflect on this and think about the things I did well and try to duplicate them in my next start."
One of his shaky starts came against the Phillies, as he surrendered four runs in the first before allowing one over the next five in a 5-2 defeat April 16.
Utley and Howard have hit a combined .203 (13 for 64) against Lincecum with 26 strikeouts, including the postseason. They've accounted for a .213 average, three homers and eight RBIs in a combined 23 games since returning.
Though the Phillies are 13 1/2 games behind East-leading Washington and 10 out of a wild-card spot, they've been competitive since the All-Star break behind a starting rotation that's posted a 2.16 ERA.
"Our pitching is the reason why we've been doing so well lately," said Hunter Pence , 4 for 27 over his last seven games.
San Francisco's Melky Cabrera has been doing very well with four consecutive multihit games - three since the birth of his child.
He's never faced Vance Worley (5-5, 3.47), who seeks a seventh quality start in eight outings. The latest came Saturday at Colorado as he gave up two runs in 6 2-3 innings of an 8-5 victory.
The only two times he's faced the Giants came last season and he won both, including the lone complete game of his career in a 7-2 home win July 26.
|San Francisco Giants|
|July 18, 2012||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 17, 2012||Hector Sanchez||Day-to-Day||Left knee sprain|
|June 26, 2012||Shane Loux||15-Day DL||Strained neck|
|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|
|July 09, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 25, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle - out 3-5 weeks|
|June 07, 2012||Freddy Galvis||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|June 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||Day-to-Day||Left game - left index finger laceration|
|June 02, 2012||Jose Contreras||60-Day DL||Torn UCL, right elbow - out for season|
|May 28, 2012||Roy Halladay||15-Day DL||Right latissimus dorsi strain|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Starts like this used to be common for Tim Lincecum .
Brandon Crawford hit a grand slam and drove in five runs, Lincecum threw seven sharp innings and the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 on Friday night.
Lincecum (4-10) looked more like the pitcher who was a two-time Cy Young Award winner than the one who entered the game with a 5.93 ERA. He allowed two runs and five hits, striking out six. It's just the second time this season he had consecutive quality starts - at least six innings pitched and three runs or less. He got a no-decision in San Francisco's 3-2 extra-inning win over Houston last Saturday when he threw eight scoreless innings.
"Building consistency," Lincecum said. "Two good outings behind me. Now onto the next one and use this as a springboard."
Lincecum has allowed three runs or less in four of his last six outings.
"He had a different look, more confidence and he had great stuff," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Ryan Howard hit a solo homer for the last-place Phillies, who have lost two in a row after winning four straight. Phillies starter Vance Worley (5-6) gave up six runs and six hits in six innings, striking out nine.
The Giants broke it open with five runs in the sixth.
Ryan Theriot led off with a single, Melky Cabrera singled and Buster Posey walked to load the bases. Pablo Sandoval 's sacrifice fly made it 2-1. Nate Schierholtz walked to re-load the bases. Worley stayed in despite having already thrown 105 pitches. Crawford ripped the second pitch he saw out to right for his second career slam to put the Giants up 6-1.
"I was looking for a pitch I could hit in the air and it just went out," Crawford said.
Howard drove one out to almost straightaway center to get the Phillies within 6-2 in the bottom half. It was Howard's second homer in 25 at-bats since returning after missing the first 84 games.
Crawford's RBI single off Jeremy Horst in the eighth made it 7-2.
"I haven't been doing well with runners in scoring position so that last hit felt just as good as the grand slam," Crawford said.
A balk by Lincecum forced in Shane Victorino to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Victorino and Chase Utley hit consecutive hard singles to start the inning. After the balk, Lincecum worked out of a bases-loaded jam, retiring Placido Polanco on a bouncer to third.
"He had a better fastball tonight," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Lincecum. "He threw 89-93 miles per hour and touched 94. He changed speeds and he was locating."
The Giants tied it at 1 on Eli Whiteside 's two-out RBI double to deep right in the fifth.
Notes: The switch-hitting Crawford was in a 1-for-20 slump against right-handers before taking Worley deep. ... The Phillies are an NL-worst 17-28 at home. ... The Giants are 19-13 in the opener of a series this season, including 10-1 in their last 11. ... Howard is 6-for-28 with four homers off Lincecum. ... The Phillies had their 265th straight sellout, including postseason. ... RHP Matt Cain (10-3, 2.56) faces LHP Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.07) in a matchup of All-Stars on Saturday afternoon. San Francisco gave Cain the contract Hamels is using as a barometer for the deal he's seeking from the Phillies before he reaches free agency after the season.
Rob Maaddi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/RobMaaddi