That’s bad news for the struggling San Diego Padres.
Lincecum looks to win his career-high fourth straight start and extend the longest scoreless innings streak of his three-year career Thursday night when the Giants open a four-game series against the Padres in search of their major league-leading 29th home victory.
San Francisco (46-38) is on pace to snap a streak of four consecutive losing seasons, thanks to another dominant campaign from Lincecum (9-2, 2.23 ERA) and one of the majors’ best home records.
The Giants suffered a 7-0 loss to Florida on Wednesday, but it was just their second defeat in their nine games at AT&T Park, where they’re 28-14. They were 37-44 at home en route to a 72-90 finish in 2008.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy has to be optimistic about his team’s chances of rebounding from Wednesday’s defeat with Lincecum on the mound. The right-hander held Houston to three hits in seven innings of a 9-0 victory Saturday, winning his third straight start and extending his scoreless innings streak to 23.
“He’s throwing as well as I’ve seen him since he’s been here and that’s saying a lot,” Bochy said of Lincecum, who’s 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in eight home starts.
Lincecum’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants player since closer Robb Nen went 25 2-3 consecutive innings without allowing a run in 2000. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner has gone 18 straight innings without allowing a baserunner past second base.
“It’s kind of one of those rolls you don’t notice until it keeps going and going and going,” he said. “You keep feeding off the goose eggs, I guess.”
In 10 career starts against San Diego, Lincecum is 3-2 with a 1.43 ERA. He only has a lower lifetime ERA against Oakland. However, the Giants have lost both of Lincecum’s starts against the Padres this year, and their ace is 0-1 with a 3.65 ERA in those games.
Though San Diego has lost both its games at AT&T Park this season, it’s won six of eight overall against NL West rival San Francisco in 2009.
However, that’s probably not enough to make the Padres (35-49) feel better. They’ve lost seven of their last eight, including their last three at Arizona - a sweep that dropped them into last place in the division.
“It’s real frustrating,” outfielder Tony Gwynn(notes) told the Padres’ official Web site after a 6-2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. “I don’t know what else to really say about it. We have to find a way to win, though, regardless what the circumstances are. Whether it’s hitting, defense or pitching, we have to find a way to win these ballgames.”
They’ll try to do that behind Josh Geer(notes) (1-3, 5.46) on Thursday. The right-hander has delivered four straight quality starts, but he’s still winless in eight games - seven starts - since beating the Chicago Cubs on May 23.
Geer held the Los Angeles Dodgers to two runs in 6 1-3 innings Saturday but didn’t get a decision in the Padres’ 7-4 victory. He allowed two runs over seven innings in his only previous start against San Francisco, an 11-3 victory in San Diego last Sept. 11.