The San Francisco Giants need a major pick-me-up after possibly the toughest loss of their season. They have the right pitcher on the mound to help them get it.
San Francisco (82-71) was one out away from pulling within three games of wild-card leader Colorado on Friday night before Jeff Baker(notes) hit a two-run homer off Giants closer Brian Wilson(notes). The Cubs held on for a 3-2 win, leaving San Francisco four back with nine left.
“We know what happened tonight. We had a chance to pick up a game,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We were one pitch from winning the game. It’s disappointing, there’s no way of getting around that.”
The Giants have dropped six of nine at home, where they have an NL-best 48-26 record. They’ve scored 14 runs in the six losses.
They’ll turn to the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner to try to get back on track.
Lincecum (14-6, 2.47 ERA) lasted four-plus innings Sunday against the Dodgers, allowing five runs and four walks in a 6-2 loss. It was his shortest outing since a three-inning stint on opening day against Milwaukee.
Pitching at AT&T Park should enhance Lincecum’s chances of success. He’s 9-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 15 home starts, including 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA with 56 strikeouts in six outings since the All-Star break.
Lincecum is second in the majors with 247 strikeouts - 20 shy of Christy Mathewson’s franchise record set in 1903. He has a chance of passing Mathewson’s mark if he gets three more starts after leading the majors last season with 265.
“That’s a lot of strikeouts, and sounds like the record has been around for a long time,” Lincecum told the Giants’ official Web site. “Whatever happens happens, but, sure, that’s something that could be really special.”
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs, winning his last three decisions. He struck out seven and yielded two runs over seven sharp innings in a 6-2 win at Wrigley Field on May 5 in which Chicago (79-73) sat numerous regulars.
Chicago still has faint hopes of reaching the playoffs for the third straight year, trailing Colorado by 6 1/2 games. The Cubs improved to 4-3 on a 10-game road trip thanks to Baker’s heroics.
“It got awful quiet when Baker hit the home run,” manager Lou Piniella said. “Baker has done well since we’ve gotten him. He’s a tough kid, plays hard and is versatile.”
The Cubs are looking to improve to 18-9 in games started by Carlos Zambrano(notes) (8-6, 3.91), who will pitch Friday. Zambrano allowed two runs over six innings Sunday in a 6-3, 11-inning win at St. Louis.
The right-hander is 6-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 14 road starts this year, including 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA in six outings since the All-Star break.
Zambrano is 4-1 with a 3.40 ERA in seven career starts against the Giants, whom he hasn’t faced in two years.