Brewers-Giants Preview

The Associated Press

Tim Lincecum hasn't won since his no-hitter last month, but San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy likes the way the right-hander has been throwing.

Bochy can't be as confident about his club's offense heading into Thursday's series finale with the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.

A two-time Cy Young Award winner and the owner of two World Series rings, Lincecum (5-11, 4.43 ERA) threw his first career no-hitter in a 9-0 victory at San Diego on July 13 in his final start of the first half.

Lincecum followed that career-high 148-pitch outing with one of his worst, giving up a career-high eight earned runs in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-0 loss to Cincinnati on July 22.

But in two starts since - both 2-1 Giants losses - Lincecum has gone seven innings apiece while allowing three total runs and striking out 15.

"He's in a good place,'' Bochy said after Lincecum gave up one run in Saturday's 10-inning loss at Tampa Bay. "He's strong, he's got a lot of confidence going. He's using all his pitches. He's on the top of his game."

Lincecum has the team's worst run-support average at 3.56, and he could have little room for error again with the Giants (50-63) batting .236 and producing 2.5 runs per game while dropping 12 of 17.

Having Hunter Pence bat leadoff for the first time in five seasons didn't provide the spark the Giants were looking for in Wednesday's 6-1 loss, as he finished hitless in four at-bats. It's uncertain what tweaks - if any - Bochy will make Thursday.

"For whatever reason, we don't look like the same team we were last year,'' starter Madison Bumgarner said. "There are things I could have done differently. There are things everyone could have done differently. It's been the same story all year.''

The Giants, though, can salvage the four-game series split - and finish 2-5 against the Brewers (49-65) this season - when they get their first look at Donovan Hand (0-3, 3.60).

The rookie right-hander gets a fourth consecutive start after being used as a reliever in 12 of his first 15 games. Hand was mostly pleased with his stuff Saturday after going a career-high seven innings in a 3-0 loss to Washington, but he was concerned about allowing a pair of homers.

Hand gave up three in his previous start.

"Just got to be a little better in that area," he told the Brewers' official website.

Milwaukee has enjoyed some outstanding pitching in this series - its starters have allowed one run in 17 1-3 innings - but the club could use some better at-bats, as they have just two fewer strikeouts than hits (22) in the last three games.

Rickie Weeks, 0 for 10 in the series, is questionable after leaving Wednesday's game with a strained left hamstring. Weeks' injury could force the Brewers to call up Scooter Gennett, who was just sent to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday.

All-Star center fielder Carlos Gomez has one hit in eight at-bats against Lincecum, who is 0-2 with a 5.76 ERA in five career home starts versus Milwaukee and has gotten a total of eight runs of support.

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