San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum opened his sophomore season with a stellar start, and one of the best first halves in the majors. He’s also pitched well after the All-Star break, but without any wins to show for it.
Lincecum hopes to snap a season high-tying three-start winless drought Wednesday when the Giants close a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at AT&T Park.
San Francisco (47-65) won its first five games started by Lincecum (11-3, 2.71 ERA) this season, while the right-hander went 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA. He maintained that dominance throughout most of the first half, entering the All-Star break among major-league leaders in wins (11), ERA (2.57), strikeouts (135) and innings (129 2-3).
Lincecum has a 3.60 ERA while striking out 32 batters in 20 innings spanning three starts since the break. He’s just 0-1 in those games, though, matching his longest winless streak of the season.
For his part, Lincecum says he’s more interested in helping the Giants (47-65) improve than boosting his individual statistics.
“I’m more concentrating on the task at hand, and that’s getting wins (for the team),” he told the Giants’ official Web site.
Lincecum held San Diego to one run and three hits while striking out 11 in seven innings Friday. He left with a two-run lead, but San Francisco’s bullpen squandered it before the Giants rallied for a 3-2, 10-inning victory.
“Those kind of things happen,” Lincecum said. “You can’t gauge whether your bullpen’s going to work out for you based on that. Tonight, we came back and won. I’m just happy we were able to scratch it out.”
Lincecum won his first two career starts against the Braves - both last season - while allowing five runs in 11 innings.
Atlanta (52-61) is hoping to build on its best offensive performance since the All-Star break. The Braves had 14 hits including five doubles in Tuesday night’s 11-4 victory. Second baseman Kelly Johnson, batting .467 (14-for-30) in his last eight games, was 3-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored.
The Braves’ lineup also figures to get a boost from the return of Brian McCann. The All-Star catcher is 1-for-8 with two strikeouts in two games since returning from a seven-game absence with a concussion, but has reported no dizziness or other post-concussion symptoms.
“I felt fine,” he told the Braves’ official Web site. “Once I start getting more at-bats, I start getting more comfortable and build confidence.”
The Braves haven’t won a series since taking two of three against Florida from July 21-23, and haven’t recorded back-to-back victories since July 23 and 25.
They’ll try to end both droughts as they hand the ball to Chuck James (2-4, 9.47), who gave up six runs over 2 2-3 innings in his last start - a 9-0 loss to Milwaukee on Friday. The left-hander is 1-2 with a 4.35 ERA in five career games - three starts - against the Giants.
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