Lincecum (16-3, 2.54 ERA) and Arizona’s Brandon Webb are among the top candidates to win Cy Young honors in the NL. While Webb lost three straight starts before earning his 20th win Friday, Lincecum has been strong down the stretch, going 5-0 with a 2.00 ERA over his last nine starts.
The right-hander came within two outs of his first career complete game on Monday after taking a shutout into the ninth inning en route to a 6-2 win over Arizona. The NL ERA leader gave up two runs and struck out nine.
“I wasn’t thinking about Brandon Webb. I wasn’t thinking Cy Young,” said Lincecum, who is tied with Milwaukee’s CC Sabathia for the major league lead with 225 strikeouts. “It’s a division game and a chance for us to catch up a little bit.”
Young (5-5, 4.48) hasn’t enjoyed the season Lincecum has, being limited to 15 starts due to two stints on the disabled list. But Young turned in his best outing of the season on Sunday in Milwaukee, retiring the first 23 Brewers before a homer by Gabe Kapler.
The 6-foot-10 right-hander settled for a two-hitter and his first career complete game in a 10-1 victory for San Diego (57-91).
“Personally, it’s pretty gratifying,” Young said. “It’s been a long road for me. It’s been a lot of time sitting and watching. It’s been hard, especially with the way the season has gone for us as a team.
“I couldn’t sit out and … whine about it. I had to keep working and do my best to get out there.”
This is just the second meeting between the starters, with Lincecum outdueling Young in a 1-0 win on April 24. Lincecum struck out nine and yielded four hits in 6 1-3 innings while Young - making his only start against the Giants this year - had 10 strikeouts and gave up one run and two hits over seven innings.
Lincecum is 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA this year against the Padres in five starts - all wins for San Francisco.
Young, meanwhile, is 1-3 with a 4.06 ERA in seven career starts against the Giants.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning for the Padres’ only runs. Gonzalez, who is 3-for-20 with eight strikeouts in his career versus Lincecum, has homered three times in this series, and has 15 RBIs against the Giants in 2008.