The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is now pitching like he's expected to, and his team is rolling.
Lincecum looks to continue his impressive turnaround and help the first-place Giants sweep the San Diego Padres on Wednesday at AT&T Park.
San Francisco (55-42) lost 14 of Lincecum's 18 starts before the All-Star break, yet still ended the first half facing just a half-game deficit behind Los Angeles in the division.
With Tuesday's thrilling 3-2 victory over the Padres, the Giants won for the ninth time in 11 games since the Midsummer Classic to open up a 2 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers. They've won both of Lincecum's starts in that stretch, and the right-hander has looked sharp each time.
After throwing eight shutout innings in a 3-2, 12-inning victory over Houston on July 14, Lincecum (4-10, 5.72 ERA) gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings of Friday's 7-2 win at Philadelphia.
"Building consistency," said Lincecum, who still owns the NL's highest ERA. "Two good outings behind me. Now onto the next one and use this as a springboard."
He would seem to have a good chance of making it three in a row considering the matchup. He has a 0.39 ERA in winning his last three home starts against the Padres, and a 1.90 ERA in 10 career outings against them at AT&T Park.
Although the Giants are feeling better about Lincecum, they may be concerned regarding Pablo Sandoval , who left Tuesday's game with a strained left hamstring. The injury occurred in the third inning when Sandoval, playing first base for the slumping Brandon Belt , went into the splits to complete a sensational double play.
Sandoval, who ranks third on the team with a .299 average, had a run-scoring double in the first inning, his sixth two-bagger in the last nine games. He is scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday.
Belt, mired in a 2-for-34 slump, replaced Sandoval and started the Giants' ninth-inning rally with a leadoff walk. Angel Pagan followed with a single, the two moved up on a passed ball and Brandon Crawford singled to win the game.
San Francisco improved to 6-2 against the Padres this year, and has won 10 of 12 meetings at AT&T Park. The Giants own the majors' second-best home record at 31-16, and have won a season-high six straight games in San Francisco.
The Padres (41-58) arrived in the Bay Area winners of seven of nine, averaging 5.4 runs in that stretch, but they've managed just three runs and 11 hits in the first two games of this series. They're 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position after hitting .358 in such situations in their previous six games.
Scheduled starter Jason Marquis (3-5, 3.79) benefited from San Diego's offense Friday, when he gave up five runs - three earned - and nine hits in five innings of a 9-5 victory over Colorado.
Signed to a minor league contract in late May, the right-hander made his Padres debut June 7 against the Giants, yielding four runs - two earned - and nine hits in six innings of an 8-3 loss. Buster Posey , who was 0 for 4 Tuesday after batting .513 with 17 RBIs in his first 10 games after the break, went 2 for 3 with a homer against Marquis.
|San Diego Padres|
|July 18, 2012||Cameron Maybin||Day-to-Day||Sore right wrist|
|July 04, 2012||Andrew Cashner||15-Day DL||Strained muscle in right side|
|June 21, 2012||Anthony Bass||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 10, 2012||Cameron Maybin||Day-to-Day||Left game - Sprained neck|
|June 04, 2012||Will Venable||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|June 04, 2012||Eric Stults||15-Day DL||Strained left latissimus dorsi muscle|
|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|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jesus Guzman , Chase Headley and the San Diego Padres turned Tim Lincecum 's latest start into a round of batting practice.
Guzman hit two home runs and Headley had another to hand Lincecum his latest setback, powering the Padres past the San Francisco Giants 6-3 on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep.
"He was aggressive with the fastball early and then he kind of got away from it a little bit," Padres outfielder Will Venable said. "And we were able to get a barrel on it."
Venable blooped a two-run double to help the Padres pound Lincecum (4-11), who allowed five runs in 4 2-3 innings. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner had shown signs of progress in his previous two outings. Instead, he's still trying to piece three straight solid starts together and turnaround the worst season of his career.
"My stuff was pretty good in the beginning of the game," Lincecum said. "I started losing my spots more. I just have to execute those better and get a better result out of it."
Jason Marquis (4-5) gave up one run and three hits in 7 1-3 innings. He struck out eight and walked one to send the NL West-leading Giants to only their third loss in 12 games.
Huston Street extended his scoreless streak to 15 straight innings with a four-out save, including striking out All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera with two on to end the eighth. Street has converted all 17 save opportunities this season.
After allowing two runs in 15 innings over his previous two starts, Lincecum and the Giants were optimistic The Freak had finally snapped out of his funk.
So much for that.
Headley hammered a 1-1 fastball over the wall in center in the first to match his career-high of 12 home runs and give the Padres a 1-0 lead. It was the sixth home run allowed in the first inning this year by Lincecum, tying the mark he gave up all of last season.
The Giants answered back in the bottom of the inning when Gregor Blanco singled, stole second and eventually scored on Cabrera's fly out to left.
The run did little for Lincecum's confidence.
Lincecum loaded the bases in the fourth with one out. He struck out Marquis on three pitches and almost escaped until Venable's shallow two-run double landed in front of a diving Angel Pagan in left-center, putting the Padres ahead 3-1 and extending Lincecum's season-long slump.
"He's a foot away from getting out of the inning," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
San Francisco's shaggy-haired starter slumped around the mound, covering his face with his glove, never regaining his composure. Lincecum lofted a fastball clocked at 89 mph over the middle of the plate in the fifth that Guzman crushed over the wall in left.
Guzman also hit a solo shot off Brad Penny leading off the eighth for his sixth home run of the season to give San Diego a 6-1 lead.
After Lincecum walked John Baker , Bochy took that familiar trot to the mound to relieve his former ace before the sixth inning again. Lincecum left after giving up seven hits, five runs and three walks. He tossed 102 pitches - 62 for strikes - and struck out eight.
Lincecum now has a 5.88 ERA, the highest among any qualifying National League pitcher, and has only lasted six innings in nine of his 21 starts. The Giants are 6-15 this season when Lincecum takes the mound.
"Lincecum's got a good arm," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We got him today but he's never comfortable to face."
San Francisco's final effort to save Lincecum from another loss fell short.
Brandon Belt reached on a throwing error by shortstop Everth Cabrera that landed in the dugout to start the bottom of the eighth. Joaquin Arias singled home Belt and Theriot delivered an RBI single with two outs to slice San Diego's lead to 6-3.
Street entered and struck out Cabrera to end San Francisco's best shot.
NOTES: Headley also hit 12 home runs in 2009. ... Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval sat out with a strained left hamstring he injured Tuesday night stretching for a catch to finish off a double play when he was at first base. The team will wait until Friday to decide whether he needs to be put on the disabled list. ... Giants C Buster Posey got the day off to rest. ... San Francisco's Hector Sanchez (sprained left knee) is scheduled to catch five innings for Triple-A Fresno on Thursday. Sanchez was put through catching and fielding drills Wednesday, including at first base. He's expected to come off the disabled list when eligible Aug. 2. ... Both teams are off Thursday. The Padres will play at Miami on Friday, while the Giants open a three-game series at home against the second-place Dodgers.
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