The San Francisco Giants hoped a no-hitter would lead to big things for Tim Lincecum in the second half. Instead, he's looking to rebound from the worst start of his career.
The Chicago Cubs will try to complete their first road sweep over the Giants in 20 years Sunday when they face the former Cy Young Award winner.
Former Giant Nate Schierholtz homered off closer Sergio Romo with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Cubs (47-55) to a 1-0 win Saturday. That loss dropped the reigning World Series champs into a virtual last-place tie with San Diego.
San Francisco (46-57) has lost six of seven to fall a season-high nine games behind the NL West-leading Dodgers.
"We're in a tough rut now and we know it,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "We just have to keep working and trying."
The Giants have dropped 10 of 12 with Lincecum (5-10, 4.73 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander gave up a career-high eight earned runs and nine hits over a season-low 3 2-3 innings Monday in an 11-0 loss to Cincinnati.
Lincecum had posted a 3.16 ERA over an eight-start stretch capped by his no-hitter at San Diego on July 13. He insisted the 148 pitches he made in that 9-0 victory had no lingering effect against the Reds.
"It's something we've dealt with before so you just have to be prepared for it and know that you're going to get those days off to give yourself that rest and come back strong, but I didn't," Lincecum said.
Lincecum has gone 1-3 with a 4.84 ERA in his last six starts versus the Cubs. He allowed four runs - all in the first - over five innings before the Giants rallied late for a 10-7 win at Wrigley Field on April 14.
Starlin Castro went 3 for 3 with a home run off Lincecum in that meeting, giving him seven hits and five RBIs in 16 career at-bats in this matchup. He's also 12 for 28 (.429) with two homers against the Giants this season.
Schierholtz has put aside trade speculation to go 9 for 19 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last six contests overall.
The Cubs, winners in 18 of 31, go for their first sweep in San Francisco since Sept. 13-15, 1993, behind All-Star Travis Wood (6-7, 2.95).
Following an eight-day layoff, the left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 10-4 loss at Arizona on Tuesday. Chicago has lost eight of his last nine starts despite Wood posting a 3.20 ERA during that stretch.
He's 0-2 with a 4.38 ERA in four career starts against the Giants, but has yielded only three runs in 15 innings in his last two starts at AT&T Park.
This time, Wood faces a slumping San Francisco team that's averaged 2.1 runs while hitting .188 with runners in scoring position over its last 10 games.
The Giants are also batting .168 against left-handers since July 3 after getting stymied by Chicago's Chris Rusin on Saturday.
Buster Posey has gone 3 for 19 versus southpaws during that span and 1 for 19 overall in his last seven games. The 2012 NL MVP has one hit in 17 at-bats against the Cubs this season.