San Francisco has climbed its way to the top of the National League West without much help from ace Tim Lincecum, but the right- hander is coming off his best start of 2012.
After snapping the longest losing streak of his career last time out, the former Cy Young winner hopes to pitch the Giants to a victory this evening in the opener of a three-game series against another first-place club in the Washington Nationals.
Lincecum dropped six straight decisions over a 10-start span, but began to turn things around in a no-decision at Oakland on June 22. He threw five scoreless innings after a three-run first, then kept the Dodgers off the board for seven frames on Wednesday in a 3-0 win.
The 28-year-old scattered four hits and two walks while striking out eight, extending his scoreless-innings streak to 12 and improving to 3-8 with a 5.60 earned run average in 16 starts with his first win since April 28.
"Timmy was Timmy today," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "He came off a pretty good game in Oakland, carried that into today's game and threw great."
Lincecum is just 1-4 with 7.59 ERA in eight road starts this season and 1-2 with a 4.14 ERA in six career meetings with the Nationals.
The Giants hold a 1 1/2-game edge over the Dodgers for first place in the NL West thanks to victories in seven of their last 10. Following a three-game sweep of Los Angeles, San Francisco split a four-game set with visiting Cincinnati, taking Sunday's finale 4-3.
After the Reds tied the game in the top of the ninth. Angel Pagan hit a walk- off RBI double in the bottom of the frame as Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce misread the ball and allowed it to drop behind him. Buster Posey, who had kept the inning alive with a two-out, ground-rule double, easily scored.
"It was a very weird walkoff but I really enjoyed it," said Pagan. "You do whatever it takes to win a ball game."
Posey finished with three hits and drove in two for the Giants, who tonight take their swings against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann.
The right-hander had been 0-2 over his previous five starts before beating the Rockies on Wednesday. He threw seven innings of one-run ball, working around eight hits and three walks in an 11-5 triumph.
Zimmermann moved to 4-6 with a 2.77 ERA through 15 starts and goes for his first home victory of 2012. The 26-year-old is 0-3 with a 3.25 ERA in seven outings as the host thus far.
He is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in four lifetime meetings with the Giants.
The Nats survived a brutal three-game set with the Braves in Atlanta over the weekend, with each contest seeing game-time temperatures in the triple digits.
Gio Gonzalez fought the heat in Sunday's rubber match, giving up four runs over five-plus innings of an 8-4 win to claim his 11th victory of the season.
Fellow Nats starter Stephen Strasburg left Saturday's loss after just three innings because of heat exhaustion.
"It was a hot one out there," said Gonzalez. "I remembered coming in talking to Stras a little bit and I was telling him I know how you felt. It's just one of those things. It's just hard to go out there and try to overcome it."
Ryan Zimmerman supplied the offense with four RBI while hitting a solo homer as one of his three hits. He helped Washington win its sixth game in eight tries as the club leads the Mets by 3 1/2 games for the top spot in the NL East.
The Nationals won three of four over the Giants at home last season.