Lincecum looks to avoid a personal three-game slide as the Giants try to defeat Kershaw for the first time in six tries Friday night when this three-game set begins with a marquee pitching matchup.
San Francisco (75-68) has 19 games left to overcome a considerable gap behind first-place Arizona, and the Giants haven’t helped their cause by dropping six of 10.
They fell again Wednesday, losing 3-1 at San Diego as their attempt to sweep the three-game set came up short.
They haven’t beaten Kershaw (17-5, 2.45 ERA) since Cain outpitched him in a 2-0 win at AT&T Park on Aug. 1, 2010.
Since then, Kershaw is 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 35 2-3 innings over five starts against the Giants. He hasn’t allowed a run in 23 2-3 innings while winning three in a row at San Francisco.
Kershaw was dazzling in his last visit to AT&T Park on July 20, fanning a season-high 12 while yielding three hits in eight innings of a 1-0 win over Lincecum. He also beat the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner on opening day March 31, when Kershaw worked seven scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory.
The left-hander is making a case to become the first Dodgers starter to win the Cy Young since Orel Hershiser in 1988.
Kershaw ranks among the NL’s top three in wins and complete games (five), while his career highs of 222 strikeouts and 205 2-3 innings rank first and second, respectively.
The Dodgers ace has reinforced his status among the NL’s elite by going 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his last five starts. He didn’t get a decision Sunday, but was cruising through six scoreless innings before giving up three runs - two earned - in the seventh during a 4-3 loss at Atlanta.
“I definitely felt like I had good stuff, some of the better stuff I’ve had all year,” Kershaw said. “I had command of all three pitches. In the seventh, I left some (pitches) up.”
Despite that defeat, the Dodgers (70-72) have won 13 of 16 after beating Washington 7-4 on Thursday. They were scheduled to play a doubleheader, but the nightcap was rained out.
After scoring at least six runs for the 10th time in 15 contests, Los Angeles will try to do the same against Lincecum (12-12, 2.75). He has struggled while losing his last two starts, allowing 10 runs and 15 hits - four homers - with 11 strikeouts and seven walks in 11 innings.
The right-hander gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings of a crucial 7-2 loss Saturday against the Diamondbacks.
“Of course, this is disappointing,” Lincecum said.
Carlos Beltran(notes) is providing some punch at the plate by going 12 for 19 with six RBIs in five September games. He’s 7 for 21 with four doubles and a homer in seven 2011 games against the Dodgers, but is 0 for 7 with three strikeouts versus Kershaw.