It's accurate to say Tim Lincecum has had an erratic season in 2011, but yet he's still managed to reach double digits in wins for the fourth consecutive year.
Lincecum has been rewarded with the NL Cy Young Award twice over that span and looks to get back into the win column this evening in the finale of a brief two-game series versus the rival San Diego Padres at AT&T Park. Lincecum was 5-2 with a 1.16 earned run average in seven starts before losing at Atlanta in Thursday's 1-0 setback from Turner Field.
The right-hander fired seven innings of one-run ball and struck out seven batters to absorb the tough-luck loss and is 11-10 with a 2.53 ERA in 26 starts this season. Lincecum defeated the Padres on July 15 with six innings of one-run ball to back a 6-1 triumph and is 7-4 with a 2.16 ERA in 16 career starts against them. Lincecum is 4-5 in 12 starts by the Bay in 2011.
San Francisco is counting on Lincecum to even his home mark tonight after it suffered a 7-5 loss to the Padres in last night's series opener. Ramon Ramirez was banged around in the ninth inning for two runs and three hits to absorb the loss and starter Matt Cain put his team in a hole by allowing five runs -- three earned -- and six hits in seven innings.
"We couldn't quite finish the deal there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "But we had some big hits late."
Cody Ross, Hector Sanchez and Orlando Cabrera each drove in a run for the Giants, who sit two games back of Arizona in the NL West. The Diamondbacks beat the Nationals on Tuesday. San Francisco has lost 17 of its last 24 games and opened a 12-game homestand on a sour note.
In other team news, outfielder Carlos Beltran was activated off of the disabled list Tuesday. Beltran (hand/wrist) came on as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and popped out. In a corresponding move, the Giants placed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez on the 15- day disabled list with a left ankle sprain. Fellow outfielder Nate Schierholtz is nursing a fracture in his right foot.
Catcher Eli Whiteside (concussion) is close to returning to the club.
San Diego has won five in a row and opened an eight-game road trip with last night's triumph. Kyle Blanks hit a two-run homer and Will Venable provided two hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Padres, who will also visit Arizona and Los Angeles on the trek. Alberto Gonzalez and Venable each had RBI singles in the decisive top of the ninth inning.
Mat Latos started for the Friars and did not record a decision, as he gave up two runs -- one earned -- and three hits in six innings. Erik Hamren recorded the final out of the eighth inning for the win and closer Heath Bell struck out two in the ninth for his 35th save.
"For us to go out there and win this game, especially the way we did it builds a lot of character with these guys," Bell said.
Padres catcher Nick Hundley was named NL Player of the Week on Monday and hit .500 (12-for-24) with three doubles, four triples, one home run, four RBI and eight runs scored in seven games played. Hundley scored a run in the ninth.
Tim Stauffer draws the pitching assignment for San Diego Wednesday and is 3-4 in his previous seven decisions. Stauffer is coming off Thursday's 3-1 win versus Florida in which he delivered seven innings of one-run ball and struck out five batters. He was able to pull within one game of the .500 mark at 8-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 26 starts.
Stauffer, a righty, is 3-5 in 13 road starts this season and defeated the Giants back on July 5 in a 5-3 win at AT&T Park. He allowed three runs -- two earned -- in six innings that day and is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in nine career games, seven of which have been starts, against the Giants.
San Francisco is 6-5 against the Padres this season and took three of four meetings from July 14-17 at Petco Park. The Padres went 12-6 in the 2010 season series.