Giants, D-Backs meet in battle of slumping hurlers
(Sports Network) - An 0-3 mark with a 7.09 earned run average in the past five starts is what Tim Lincecum is clinging to right now.
The San Francisco Giants have lost each of those outings and hope their ace can get back to form tonight in the finale of a three-game series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park.
Lincecum will have the home crowd in his corner, but that hasn't made much of a difference since the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is only 1-2 with a 4.80 ERA in five trips to the bay area mound. Lincecum dropped his second straight start in Friday's 7-6 defeat at Miami, as he was reached for six runs and six hits, including two homers, through 5 2/3 innings. He last only four innings in his previous start on May 20 in a 6-2 loss to nearby Oakland.
The right-hander is 2-5 in 10 total starts this season and his ERA is now 6.41 over 53 1/3 innings. Lincecum lost to Arizona in his season debut on April 6, when he permitted five runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-4 loss. In 19 career starts against the D-backs, Lincecum is 7-6 with a 3.18 ERA.
Ian Kennedy has fared no better for the Diamondbacks and is 0-5 with a 5.20 earned run average in his last six starts -- all Arizona setbacks.
Kennedy suffered his fifth consecutive loss in Friday's 7-1 defeat at the hands of Milwaukee and was reached for four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings of work. The loss dropped last year's NL Cy Young Award candidate to 3-5 in 10 starts with a 4.65 ERA. He has allowed 18 runs over his last four trips to the hill, but defeated San Francisco to kick off the 2012 campaign.
The right-hander countered Lincecum on the mound and threw 6 2/3 innings of three-run ball, allowing nine hits. Kennedy is 5-2 with a 2.09 ERA in 11 career starts against the Giants.
San Francisco has a chance for a sweep tonight and rallied for a 3-1 win last night with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ryan Theriot scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera later scored when Joaquin Arias reached on a fielder's choice. Cabrera continued his surge at the plate with three hits and two runs scored, and Posey finished with a pair of RBI for the Giants, who have won nine of their last 13 games and are unbeaten (2-0) on a seven-game homestand.
Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong pitched well in the no-decision, allowing one run in seven innings with eight strikeouts. Clay Hensley was credited with the win for tossing a scoreless eighth inning and Santiago Casilla nailed down his 14th save in the ninth.
Meanwhile, Cabrera upped his hit total this month to 50, breaking Willie Mays' 1958 mark for the most in the month of May in the San Francisco era. He is one hit shy of tying Randy Winn for the San Francisco-era record for the most hits in a month. Winn accomplished the feat in September of 2005.
"It's been a treat to watch him day in and day out," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said about Cabrera.
The Giants will begin a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs on Friday and pulled within 5 1/2 games of the top spot in the NL West after the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the Milwaukee Brewers last night.
Arizona lost its second straight game after prevailing in three of its previous four games. Josh Bell had the only RBI for the Diamondbacks and starter Joe Saunders did not factor in the outcome after he gave up only one run over 5 1/3 innings.
Bryan Shaw was saddled with the loss for surrendering both of San Francisco's runs in the eighth inning.
"You gotta tip your cap to them," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of the Giants. "They executed."
The Giants have won four straight over the Diamondbacks after dropping the previous nine meetings. Arizona will visit San Diego for three games this weekend and is still 12-6 in the previous 18 meetings with San Francisco.
D-backs shortstop Willie Bloomquist did not play Tuesday because of leg soreness, but is expected to return to the lineup tonight. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is riding an eight-game hitting streak.