Tim Lincecum can put a season's worth of frustration behind him on Thursday when the San Francisco Giants try to even the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 at Busch Stadium.
Lincecum, who hasn't started since Sept. 30, struggled through his worst season in the majors this year, as the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner lost 15 games and pitched to a 5.18 ERA.
"We always expect a quality start out of Timmy," Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said. "He's a good pitcher with great stuff, and I'm sure he'll show that again (Thursday)."
Lincecum has made three appearances out of the bullpen in these playoffs and has been sharp, going 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA. He was went 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five postseason starts in 2010 when the Giants won a World Series.
"He got hit a little bit this year," said Crawford. "But he's come up huge for us so far this postseason, and we need another good outing out of him (Thursday)."
St. Louis grabbed the upper hand in the best-of-seven set on Wednesday, as Matt Carpenter, filling in for an injured Carlos Beltran, homered to help the Cardinals to a 3-1 win in a game that was delayed nearly 3 1/2 hours because of thunderstorms.
Despite issuing a season-high five walks along with seven hits, Kyle Lohse (2-0) held the Giants to one run before turning things over to the St. Louis bullpen. Four Cardinal relievers combined for 3 1/3 shutout innings, with closer Jason Motte perfect over the final two to notch his second save of this NLCS.
Beltran left after one inning with a left knee strain the veteran outfielder suffered while grounding into a double play in his only plate appearance. He's listed as day-to-day, but the Cardinals hope to have him in the lineup on Thursday.
The Giants came through with several clutch hits in evening this series with a 7-1 triumph in San Francisco in Sunday's Game 2, but stranded 11 baserunners while going 0-for-7 with men in scoring position in this one.
"I think we had our chances throughout the game," said San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy. "It was a frustrating game."
Pablo Sandoval finished 2-for-5 and drove in the Giants' lone run, while starting pitcher Matt Cain (1-2) permitted all three St. Louis runs over the first 6 2/3 innings.
On Thursday, Adam Wainwright will be trying to bounce back from a poor showing in his Game 5 NLDS start against the Washington Nationals when he was roughed up for six runs in only 2 1/3 innings.
It was a far cry from his first start that saw him surrender just a run in 5 2/3 innings.
"He can't wait to get back out there and help the team do something," said Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "He's a very unselfish pitcher, but a competitor along the lines of a Chris Carpenter, who you know he's going to will himself to give your team a chance."
San Francisco has played the Cardinals twice before in the playoffs. St. Louis edged the Giants in a thrilling seven-game series in 1987, but San Francisco got its revenge in 2002 with a five-game win in the LCS.
This is the first matchup between the two previous World Series winners since the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Braves dueled in the 1958 Fall Classic.