Giants-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

Tim Lincecum has shown signs of returning to his dominant form, and the San Francisco Giants hope the right-hander can help get them back on track.

San Francisco will send the two-time Cy Young Award winner to the mound as it seeks its fifth straight win over the San Diego Padres on Friday night in the opener of a six-game road trip.

After winning four straight - including a three-game sweep of San Diego at AT&T Park - the Giants (13-9) lost 3-2 in 10 innings to Arizona on Wednesday for their second straight extra-inning home defeat.

Shortstop Brandon Crawford was one of the bright spots, ending a 2-for-17 slump by going 3 for 4 with a game-tying homer in the ninth and two RBIs to push his batting average back up to .320.

"Here's a kid who keeps getting better and better," manager Bruce Bochy said. "The confidence has grown with him. I like the way he's using the whole field and driving the ball."

Bochy's club looks to snap a three-game road skid behind Lincecum (2-0, 3.97 ERA), who has won five of his last six regular-season decisions dating to last season.

After setting career worsts with 15 losses and a 5.18 ERA in 2012, Lincecum has allowed zero earned runs in two of four starts this season. He scattered four hits while striking out eight over 6 2-3 innings in a 2-0 win over the Padres on Saturday.

"I just went out there with purpose and knowing that every pitch has got a meaning to it," Lincecum said.

Lincecum may be able to build on that performance since he's 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in his last eight starts in this series and will face a San Diego offense that has been struggling.

The Padres, last in the NL West at 6-15, have totaled eight runs and batted .198 while losing five of six. They rank near the bottom of the majors with 12 home runs, 69 runs and a .349 slugging percentage.

San Diego did manage to avoid its longest losing streak of the season with a 2-1 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday.

"After losing five games in a row, we stopped the bleeding," said Edinson Volquez, who threw seven shutout innings.

Carlos Quentin broke out of a 1-for-14 slump, going 2 for 4 with his first homer. He's batted 3 for 7 with a home run and double against Lincecum, while Yonder Alonso is 1 for 15 with six strikeouts.

Andrew Cashner (0-1, 4.05) will try to pitch the Padres to consecutive victories for the first time since a three-game run April 15-17. The right-hander makes his second start after making five appearances out of the bullpen.

Cashner, who is 0-2 with a 4.40 ERA in seven career starts, allowed two runs and two hits over four innings while taking the loss against the Giants on Saturday.

Buster Posey is expected to return behind the plate for the Giants after not starting Wednesday. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning and singled to extend his hitting streak to six games.

The reigning NL MVP has batted .389 (7 for 18) with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs during that span. He's also fared well with three hits - two home runs - in six at-bats against Cashner.

San Francisco has won 26 of 35 in this series.

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