The San Francisco Giants have had success this season despite a subpar showing through most of the campaign by Tim Lincecum.
The former Cy Young winner appears to be hitting his stride at just the right time, however, and he'll take the mound on Tuesday for another likely postseason tune-up as the Giants resume a four-game set with the Colorado Rockies.
The 28-year-old Lincecum has gone just 9-14 with a 5.09 earned run average this season, but has not allowed more than three runs in any of his last five starts. Lincecum is 3-1 in that span and is coming off last Wednesday's win over the Rockies.
Lincecum allowed three runs on six hits and four walks, striking out eight over six frames of an 8-3 victory.
"He has really elevated his game," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's gotten on track, which is huge for us. Some of the other guys have had some hiccups and he has picked us up."
The right-hander will face the Rockies for the sixth time in 2012 and is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA against them.
The Giants lowered their magic number for winning the NL West to eight games with Monday's 2-1 victory over the Rockies. Madison Bumgarner held Colorado to a run over six innings, while Hunter Pence drove in the deciding run with a single in the sixth.
"It feels better to win a game like that than it does to go out there when you're really sharp and throwing good," Bumgarner said. "It feels good to know that you don't have your best stuff and you can still fight your way through and give us a chance."
San Francisco won for the fifth time in six games and is 11-4 versus Colorado this year.
Guillermo Moscoso allowed the deciding run to take the loss after Jhoulys Chacin surrendered one run on five hits and a walk in a five-inning start for Colorado, which dropped its third straight and 10th in 12 games.
"To think that you're going to go out, especially against this pitching staff, and throw seven, eight or nine runs up, it's not going to happen," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said about the Giants. "You got to do what you have to do to get the points you need to win, and then play the game the way you have to play it in order to not afford them unnecessary opportunities."
Getting the call tonight for the Rockies will be Jeff Francis, who took the loss against the Giants and Lincecum last Wednesday.
The veteran lefty lasted just three innings and gave up all five of his runs in the first frame on four separate run-scoring hits. He fell to 5-5 with a 5.68 ERA through 20 starts this season.
Francis, 31, has yielded 11 runs in just 6 2/3 innings of work in two setbacks this year to the Giants, who he is 7-8 against lifetime in 18 starts with a 5.47 ERA.