Barry Bonds has homered in three straight starts to add to his all-time record total. With Bonds scheduled to get the day off on Saturday, however, the spotlight will be on rookie right-hander Tim Lincecum as the San Francisco Giants continue a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record with a solo shot on Tuesday, then connected on his 757th career homer the following day. After fouling out in a pinch-hit at-bat on Thursday, Bonds delivered a two-run homer in the series opener against Pittsburgh on Friday.
His 759th career homer will likely have to wait at least one more day, as the 43-year-old Bonds will be out of Saturday’s starting lineup because it’s a day game after a night game.
“He’s swinging well,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The fresher we keep him, the better player we’re going to get.”
Lincecum (6-2, 3.59 ERA) hasn’t needed much help from Bonds lately. After suffering his first two major league losses in back-to-back starts June 13 and 19, he is 4-0 with a major league-leading 1.35 ERA since June 25. Each of his eight outings in that stretch have been quality starts.
Despite his run of success, the 23-year-old has found areas he needs to improve. He has walked five batters in each of his last two starts.
“It’s not really good,” he told the Giants’ official Web site. “I need to work on that and get ahead of batters.”
On Monday, Lincecum allowed one run and five hits over seven innings in San Francisco’s 3-2, 11-inning victory over Washington as the Giants (49-65) improved to 6-2 in Lincecum’s last eight starts.
Lincecum, who has never faced the Pirates (46-66), will look to help the Giants bounce back from a demoralizing loss on Friday.
San Francisco held a 6-2 lead entering the eighth, but Pittsburgh answered with six runs in the top of the inning en route to an 8-7 victory - its fourth in eight games this month after losing 14 of its last 16 contests in July.
“I have to give our guys an awful lot of credit to come back in the manner they did,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. “That’s been an Achilles’ heel for us. We turned it around with a huge inning.”
Adam LaRoche went 2-for-5 with his 16th home run on Friday, and is batting .319 since the beginning of July. He’s a career .386 hitter (27-for-70) with 16 extra-base hits against the Giants.
San Francisco recorded its highest run total in 13 games, but lost for the sixth time in its last eight contests. The Giants also fell for the ninth time in their last 11 games against the Pirates, who have won four straight at AT&T Park.
Pittsburgh will send Tony Armas (1-3, 6.31) to the mound, hoping for a repeat performance of the right-hander’s last outing on Aug. 1. Armas made his first start since May 17, and held St. Louis to one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings in a 15-1 victory - his first since Sept. 24.
Armas, who had a 4.98 ERA in 13 relief appearances between starts, is 1-4 with a 5.28 ERA in five career starts against the Giants.
After the finale of this series in San Francisco on Sunday, the Pirates and Giants meet for a day-night doubleheader at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park on Monday.