Mets-Giants Preview

The Associated Press

New York Mets heralded rookie Matt Harvey dazzled in his major league debut.

San Francisco's Tim Lincecum has also put together outings like that, but they've been a rarity this season.

Harvey looks to prove his first start wasn't a fluke when he takes the ball Tuesday night against the slumping Giants and Lincecum, who is hoping to bounce back from another subpar showing.

In the midst of a 1-12 stretch, the Mets called up Harvey from Triple-A Buffalo to start against Arizona on Thursday and hopefully provide a spark. The 23-year-old right-hander didn't disappoint, allowing three hits and three walks in 5 1-3 scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory. The seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft set a franchise record for strikeouts in a debut with 11.

"He lived up to exactly what everybody has talked about him," manager Terry Collins said. "Now I want him to go out the next time and be a little more comfortable yet pitch as effectively as he did. He is a different cat."

Lincecum (4-11, 5.88 ERA) can also been described as a different cat.

The long-haired right-hander known as "The Freak" came up in 2007 with similar lofty expectations. He won a pair of NL Cy Young Awards and led the Giants to the 2010 World Series, but things haven't gone quite as smoothly this year, as he owns the NL's highest ERA.

He seemed to be getting things turned around in posting a 1.20 ERA in his first two starts following the All-Star break, but he permitted five runs and seven hits - two homers - over 4 2-3 innings in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to San Diego. Although San Francisco (55-47) lost for the 15th time in his 21 starts, Lincecum didn't feel like he regressed.

"My stuff was pretty good in the beginning of the game," he said. "I started losing my spots more. I just have to execute those better and get a better result out of it."

He has got the desired result - a win - in each of his last four starts against the Mets, compiling a 0.67 ERA. In New York on April 23, he allowed a run, four hits and five walks with eight strikeouts in five innings of a 6-1 victory.

Lincecum is holding David Wright to a .105 average with 11 strikeouts in 19 at-bats, while Scott Hairston is 1 for 10 with five strikeouts.

In Monday's series opener, Hairston had a game-tying homer in the eighth inning and go-ahead shot in the 10th in an 8-7 victory. Hairston, whose name has been mentioned in trade rumors, has 14 home runs against San Francisco, his most versus any team.

"I just try to do the best I can against everybody," Hairston said. "It just happens to be the Giants I have a lot of success against."

His heroics lifted New York (50-53) to its third win in five games - a stretch that started with Harvey's victory - and sent San Francisco to a season-high fifth straight loss - a slide that began with Lincecum on the mound.

Despite the skid, the Giants still lead the NL West by one percentage point over the Dodgers.

One positive to take from the loss, though, is San Francisco's offense showed some signs of life after being shut out in back-to-back games. The Giants finished with a season-best 16 hits, and Buster Posey had two of them to continue his tear.

The All-Star catcher is batting .453 with seven doubles and 16 RBIs in his last 13 games.

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