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Lincecum steals the show as Giants edge Jays 2-1

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- On a night circled on the calendar as Melky Cabrera's return to San Francisco, the Tim Lincecum of old showed up at AT&T Park and stole the show.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner of days seemingly long ago survived a first-inning home run by Edwin Encarnacion to pitch seven of his best innings of the last two years Tuesday night, lifting the San Francisco Giants to a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a two-game interleague series.

Andres Torres' two-run home run in the second inning provided all the runs Lincecum (4-5) and two relievers would need as the Giants, losers of two games in Toronto last month by scores of 10-6 and 11-3, got the type of clutch hitting and dominating pitching that led them to a World Series championship last season.

"That's the way we play," boasted Torres, who entered the game with five extra-base hits in eight career at-bats against Blue Jays starter Josh Johnson (0-2). "We believe in ourselves."

Just not necessarily in Lincecum. Coming off three consecutive rocky efforts in which he had allowed at least four runs, the right-hander was temporarily placed on bullpen alert Sunday in St. Louis when long reliever Chad Gaudin was pressed into a start in injured Ryan Vogelsong's spot in the rotation.

Gaudin pitched well enough that Lincecum never as much as warmed up, allowing him to make his regularly scheduled start against the Blue Jays. And in the end, there was nothing regular about his performance.

"He's been a hard one to figure out because he's had good stuff," Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted. "He's given up big innings. He stayed away from that tonight."

Torres, starting because Angel Pagan sat out a ninth consecutive game with a strained left hamstring, made the Blue Jays pay for two defensive lapses in the second inning with his difference-making homer, his second of the season.

With the Giants down 1-0 after the Encarnacion home run, Hunter Pence led off the San Francisco second with a grounder to third base. Encarnacion threw high to first, pulling Adam Lind off the base, allowing Pence to reach.

Johnson, making his first start since April 22 after a long stint on the disabled list while dealing with right triceps inflammation, appeared to get Encarnacion off the hook by getting the next Giant, Brandon Belt, to ground a tailor-made double-play ball right to Emilio Bonifacio. However, the second baseman bobbled the ball and only was able to get Belt at first, allowing Pence to advance to second.

Torres then hit his homer to center field, giving the Giants a lead they never relinquished en route to their second consecutive win.

"We have guys who are known as hitters," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said, dismissing the poor defense. "That comes back to bite you sometimes."

Lincecum appeared headed down another rocky road when Encarnacion bombed a home run to straightaway center field, his 17th, with two outs in the first. However, he struck out Lind and went on to fan six in seven innings of three-hit ball.

Pitching with a lead most of the way helped, Lincecum said.

"It's definitely an advantage," he said. "You can attack the zone more. When you get a lead, you work with it."

In snapping a personal three-game losing streak, Lincecum notched just the Giants' fifth quality start in the team's last 20 games. San Francisco is 17-6 this season when its starter records a quality start.

Jeremy Affeldt relieved Lincecum and pitched a scoreless eighth. Closer Sergio Romo handled the ninth, surviving a leadoff single by Maicer Izturis to record his 16th save.

The Blue Jays' Johnson pitched well enough to win, allowing only two runs (one earned) on six hits over seven innings. He struck out six and didn't walk a batter.

NOTES: Cabrera was introduced to mostly boos when leading off the top of the first inning in his first appearance in AT&T Park since he was suspended 50 games for a positive steroids test Aug. 15. The National League leader in batting at the time, Cabrera never returned to the Giants and signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Blue Jays in the offseason. He had two of Toronto's three hits off Lincecum. ... Before the game, Cabrera was asked about an ESPN report linking him to performance-enhancing drugs and the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. "If they suspend me again," he told a USA Today Spanish-speaking reporter, "I think that would be a harsh punishment because I already served my sentence." ... The Blue Jays got good news when an MRI on the right elbow of Sunday's starter, RHP Ramon Ortiz, showed nothing more than a strain. What was feared to be a career-threatening injury only landed the veteran on the 15-day disabled list. ... The Blue Jays reinstated OF Rajai Davis, sending RHP Mickey Storey back to Triple-A Buffalo. ... Sandoval had to leave the game in the eighth inning after tweaking a strained left foot that had caused him to miss the three-game series in St. Louis last weekend. He likely will sit out Wednesday's afternoon series finale.
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