Lincecum whiffs 7 as Giants beat White Sox 5-3

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)—That extra month of work at the end of last season helped Tim Lincecum(notes) stay in shape and keep his work ethic intact through a shorter winter—and it’s already showing.

The San Francisco Giants’ ace struck out seven batters over 5 1-3 innings Wednesday to help the reigning World Series champions beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3.

Lincecum allowed one run on three hits and walked three batters. He was pulled in the sixth by manager Bruce Bochy after surrendering a one-out walk to Alex Rios(notes).

“I was hitting spots better than I had in past years, so that’s a positive I can take away from this,” he said. “Knowing that I only had three months to get back into shape in the offseason presses you to want to come out and repeat and do as well as you did last year.”

The only trouble Lincecum found was in the second inning, when he gave up a leadoff single to Paul Konerko(notes), followed by an RBI-triple off the bat of Rios. Still, with a runner on third and nobody out, Lincecum retired the next three batters without letting Rios score.

“The key to me is to get in a good tempo, good rhythm from beginning to end,” Lincecum said. “I haven’t felt this good all spring, or in any year for that matter.”

Lincecum earned the win thanks to ample support from his offense, but the production came from an unexpected source, the bottom of the San Francisco lineup.

The six through nine hitters in the Giants’ lineup accounted for 10 of the team’s 15 hits and drove in all five runs.

Brandon Belt(notes) led the charge with three hits and three runs scored. He hit a solo home run in the sixth and doubled in another run in the seventh. Nate Schierholtz(notes) added three singles and an RBI for the Giants.

Mark Buehrle(notes) showed vast improvement from his two previous starts for Chicago. He scattered seven hits in five innings, allowing just one run while striking out three. He had allowed eight runs in his last six innings pitched.

“It’s a positive thing for him,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of his Opening-Day starter. “He needed an outing like this in spring training before we break camp.”

Brent Lillibridge(notes) hit a two-run homer in the seventh for the White Sox, who went hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Notes: Buehrle picked Belt off of first base in the second inning, his first pickoff of the spring. … The announced attendance of 10,074 was the third-highest of the spring at Camelback Ranch. “They weren’t here to see Mark Buehrle and the White Sox,” Guillen joked. … Lincecum said he weighs 168 pounds, up about 11 pounds from when he reported to camp.

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