Houston (38-41) at San Francisco (43-36)

Partly Cloudy Currently: San Francisco, CA
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sat Jul 4, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The San Francisco Giants jumped on the Houston Astros early in their series opener, setting a season high in runs by the third inning.

Considering the way Tim Lincecum’s(notes) been pitching, it might only take one run to win Saturday.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner has thrown consecutive complete games and three in his last four starts, and Lincecum will be eying another dominant performance as the Giants and Astros continue their three-game set at AT&T Park.

Lincecum (8-2, 2.37 ERA) took home the NL’s highest honor after going 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA last season and leading the majors with 265 strikeouts, but he’s been even better for San Francisco (43-36) in 2009.

The skinny right-hander leads baseball with 132 strikeouts in 16 starts, and his ERA is down a quarter of a run from last season after three practically flawless outings in his last four. Lincecum has tossed two shutouts and given up a run in another complete game on June 23.

He had two complete games last season, including one shutout.

Lincecum’s latest performance was his most dominant. He limited St. Louis to two hits while striking out eight Monday in a 10-0 victory that he needed just 95 pitches to finish.

“He’s been on this roll for I don’t know how many starts,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Tonight he did say it was one of his best games. I don’t think he had a stressful inning.”

The Giants’ offense, meanwhile, seems to know Lincecum doesn’t need much help - even if they give it to him anyway.

“The way Timmy’s been pitching lately, after the first run I felt pretty comfortable,” said first baseman Travis Ishikawa(notes), who hit a three-run homer.

Lincecum is 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts against the Astros, striking out 31 in 25 1-3 innings while limiting them to a .149 average. Lance Berkman(notes) is 2 for 9 with five strikeouts versus Lincecum.

Ishikawa has five homers and 13 RBIs in his last 13 games, including another three-run shot in San Francisco’s series opener against Houston (38-40) on Friday. The Giants surpassed their season high of 11 runs by the third inning and cruised to a 13-0 win.

“That’s the offense I knew we had from the start of the season,” said third baseman Pablo Sandoval(notes), who hit his team-high 12th homer.

Lincecum’s counterpart Saturday will have a familiar look to Bay Area fans. Russ Ortiz(notes) (3-3, 3.36) will make his first return to AT&T Park since pitching 12 games in 2007 for the Giants, his second stint with the team after going 67-44 with a 4.01 ERA for San Francisco from 1998-2002

“I think at heart (I’m still a Giant),” Ortiz said. “Most people recognize me as a Giant. This is where I spent most of my time in the big leagues. This will always be a special part of my career.”

Ortiz seems to be enjoying a resurgence after missing last season with a torn tendon in his pitching arm. He’s bounced between the bullpen and the rotation, and though he’s 0-1 in his past four starts, Ortiz has posted a 2.45 ERA.

The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits in a season-high 7 1-3 innings Sunday against Detroit and left in line for a win, though he was denied when Houston gave up two in the ninth inning and lost 4-3.

Ortiz is 0-3 with a 7.46 ERA in seven career starts against the Giants.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Ortiz LAD vs. T. Lincecum SF
3-6 Record 15-7
5.57 ERA 2.48
65 K 261
48 BB 68
1.67 WHIP 1.05

Scoreboard

Saturday, Jul 4