Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum is confident he can bounce back from the worst season of his career.
Lincecum will try to get this season off to a strong start and help the Giants build on their first win in the series finale with the Dodgers.
Lincecum was 10-15 with an NL-worst 5.18 ERA in 2012 and was given only one postseason start in the Giants' run to a second World Series title in three years. He did, however, excel out of the bullpen, yielding a run while striking out 17 over 13 innings in five relief appearances.
"It's a new year," manager Bruce Bochy told the team's website. "Let's see what happens this year. That's how he has to look at it."
A blister on his right hand didn't help Lincecum during a difficult spring training (0-3, 10.57 ERA in five starts), but he said earlier this week that he felt ready for the season.
"I'm going in with a level head," Lincecum said. "I've got a lot of optimism right now. My confidence is high, which is good. I'm just really excited to see what happens."
Lincecum had few problems in his final three starts against the Dodgers in 2012, going 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA. He did not get a decision in a 5-2 win on Sept. 7 while pitching opposite Beckett.
After being acquired from Boston, Beckett was 2-3 over seven starts for Los Angeles but had a respectable 2.93 ERA.
That contrasted sharply with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts with the Red Sox in 2012. Beckett won 20 games in 2007 while helping lead Boston to its second World Series title in four years but had a couple of high-profile incidents that led to a sour end to his time with the team.
Beckett was reportedly among the players who drank beer and ate fried chicken in the clubhouse during games in 2011, a season in which Boston collapsed down the stretch. He was seen playing golf last season one day after skipping a start because of an injury.
Lincecum has tough acts to follow as the first two starters for the Giants (1-1) - Bumgarner and Matt Cain - have tossed 14 scoreless innings while allowing six hits, one walk and striking out 14.
Crawford will try to help the Dodgers score their first run off a San Francisco starter in his expected return to the lineup. The outfielder, who had two hits and scored a run in the season opener, was limited to pinch-hitting duties Tuesday in order to aid his continuing recovery from elbow surgery.
"We want to be able to ease him in," manager Don Mattingly told the team's website.
Matt Kemp , who is coming off of shoulder surgery, is 0 for 6 in the first two games and 0 for 21 with 10 strikeouts in his last six against the Giants. He was 0 for 8 with four strikeouts against Lincecum last season.
|Tony Gwynn Jr.||22||.227||5||0||4||1||5||.261||.579||.318|
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||4||.500||2||0||0||1||1||.600||1.100||.500|
|San Francisco Giants|
|March 22, 2013||Brett Pill||15-Day DL||Recovery from minor knee surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Eric Surkamp||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Tony Abreu||15-Day DL||Left knee strain|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|March 28, 2013||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Left shoulder labrum surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Chad Billingsley||15-Day DL||Right index finger contusion|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Elbert||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||15-Day DL||Torn ligament, right thumb|
|March 21, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Torn ligament, right thumb|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- When a pitcher with Tim Lincecum 's credentials is attempting a bounce-back season and wins his first start, style points are unimportant.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner walked seven, matching a career worst, yet still managed to get the win when Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence homered to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night in the rubber game of their season-opening series.
"You never really expect to get seven walks and come out with a win, but I was fortunate to be on the winning end of that," Lincecum said. "I felt like I could have pitched a lot better."
Lincecum threw 91 pitches in five innings, but limited the Dodgers to two unearned runs and three hits. He struck out four while outperforming Josh Beckett in a matchup of marquee pitchers coming off the worst season of their respective careers.
Lincecum won back-to-back Cy Youngs in 2008 and 2009 and led the NL in strikeouts for three consecutive years. But the right-hander was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA last season then was relegated to bullpen duty in the playoffs - allowing an earned run and three hits in 13 innings with 17 strikeouts.
"If you had said I would end the (regular) season the way I did and not had the postseason that I did, then I would have had a lot more to think about," Lincecum said.
"There's really nothing you can take out of what I did in the postseason except confidence and optimism," he added.
Lincecum, embarking on the final year of a two-year, $40.5 million contract, was the Giants' opening day pitcher in each of the previous four seasons. The 28-year-old right-hander missed two starts in spring training because of a blister problem and was slotted behind Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner in the rotation.
"It's not like a huge burden for me. It's just more of an expectation," Lincecum said of his past success. "But for me to stay consistent, I'd have to win Cy Young after Cy Young . It's definitely out of my control to win a Cy Young , but I definitely want to put up those kind of numbers."
Beckett (0-1) was charged with five runs, three earned, and six hits in six innings. Carl Crawford had three hits and scored a run for Los Angeles.
Beckett was the World Series MVP with Florida in 2003 and the ALCS MVP with Boston in 2007 - his only 20-win season. But the 32-year-old right-hander was 7-14 with a 4.65 ERA in a combined 28 starts last season with the Red Sox and Dodgers after he was acquired in a blockbuster nine-player trade on Aug. 25.
"I don't look at it like that," manager Don Mattingly said. "Ever since we've seen Josh over here, he's been throwing the ball good. Last year he pretty much kept us in every game that he pitched, and he could have had a lot better record better luck if we had put some runs on the board for him. He had a good camp and he's healthy, so we have no reservations about Josh."
Pence gave the defending World Series champions a 5-2 cushion in the sixth with a line-drive solo homer to right-center.
"The ball to Pence was a cutter, but I don't think I got it far enough away from him," said Beckett, who gave up 14 earned runs over eight innings in his final two starts this spring. "I made some pitches when I needed to, then I didn't make some when I needed to. But I felt good. I felt like I was getting on top of the ball a little bit better than I was maybe my last couple starts in spring training."
Jose Mijares relieved Lincecum in the sixth and threw 11 pitches without recording an out. He loaded the bases by hitting Skip Schumaker with a 1-2 pitch that caromed off his shoulder and over the home plate screen.
Matt Kemp , who was 0 for 2 in bases-loaded situations and hitless in four at-bats, grounded into a double play against George Kontos as Mark Ellis scored. Javier Lopez then came in and struck out Adrian Gonzalez .
"With no outs, you definitely want to make Kemp hit the ball on the ground," Kontos said. "I just approached him the same way I approached him last year.
"It was good for me to get back on track, have a good outing and do my job," added Kontos, who on opening day got the loss after giving up a go-ahead home run to pitcher Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning of a game that was scoreless.
San Francisco scored four times in the third to grab a 4-1 lead. Lincecum drove in Gregor Blanco with a groundout and Brandon Crawford scored when second baseman Schumaker booted Angel Pagan 's grounder in the hole for an error. Sandoval then jumped on an eye-level 1-2 fastball one out later and lined it over the right-field fence, showing no signs of the bone spur or the nerve irritation in his right elbow that sidelined the burly third baseman for part of spring training.
"He's a special talent," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He showed that in the World Series, when there were a couple of pitches similar to that that he hit out."
NOTES: Lincecum also walked seven over 6 1-3 innings in a no-decision against the Dodgers on Sept. 7. ... Sanchez caught 16 of Lincecum's 33 starts last year, his first full season in the majors. ... The Dodgers haven't scored an earned run through the first five innings in any of the first three games. ... Barry Zito will start against St. Louis' Jake Westbrook on Friday night in the Giants' home opener, when they raise their second world championship banner in three years. ... Beckett is 5-5 with three no-decisions in his first start of a season. ... The Giants will receive their World Series rings on Sunday.