Lincecum helps Giants to share of NL West lead

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Tim Lincecum won his showdown against fellow ace Mat Latos as the San Francisco Giants beat San Diego 6-1 on Sunday to move into a tie with the Padres for first place in the National League West.

Two-time reigning N.L. Cy Young winner Lincecum (14-9) struck out nine in seven innings and added a two-run single to lead the Giants to their third win against the Padres in the finale of the critical four-game series.

"When you've got the team rolling behind me, scoring runs, you've got to take advantage of it," Lincecum told reporters after winning his third straight start following an 0-5 stretch. "My confidence is at an all-time high, especially coming off the last month."

Lincecum's single in the fourth gave San Francisco a 5-0 lead against Latos, who allowed seven hits and five runs in just four innings.

Latos (14-6) surrendered more than two earned runs for the first time since June 4, snapping a streak of 15 successive starts, and San Diego (80-62) lost for the 13th time in 17 games to draw even with the Giants (81-63) in the standings.

The teams will meet for one final three-game series to close the season October 1-3.

San Francisco jumped on the Padres early when Buster Posey blasted a two-run home run in the first inning. The team added a run in the third and two more in the fourth.

Posey had two hits and Aubrey Huff finished 3-for-5.

Right-hander Latos entered the game with a Major League-best ERA of 2.21 but had it swell to 2.43.

"I feel it makes us a little stronger with the ups and the downs," Latos said. "This is going to be a tough race. The Giants have got a good ballclub. Colorado's making a nice little push. We need to step our game up a little bit."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)