Rockies-Giants Preview

The Associated Press

The San Francisco Giants are cruising to a second NL West title in three years.

Getting Tim Lincecum untracked may be just what they need to keep rolling come October.

Lincecum looks to carry his road success back to AT&T Park on Tuesday night when he goes for another victory against the last-place Colorado Rockies.

San Francisco (84-63) leads the NL West by eight games over second-place Los Angeles with 15 to go in the regular season.

The Giants have won five of six after beating Colorado 2-1 to open this four-game set Monday, winning for the 13th time in 17 tries at home against the Rockies.

With a berth in the postseason seemingly all but assured, the Giants have the luxury of trying to get Lincecum (9-14, 5.09 ERA) back on track.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner and four-time All-Star is mired in his worst season in the majors, but he's put together a strong stretch on the road - winning five starts in a row behind a 2.61 ERA. However, the right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.84 ERA in his past four outings at home.

Overall, Lincecum's last three starts - two as the visitor - have ended in Giants victories, while he's won twice and posted a 3.38 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 14 walks in 18 2-3 innings.

Manager Bruce Bochy is encouraged.

"He has really elevated his game," Bochy said. "He's gotten on track, which is huge for us. Some of the other guys have had some hiccups and he has picked us up."

Lincecum's road success continued Wednesday, when he allowed three runs and six hits with eight strikeouts and four walks over six innings of an 8-3 win at Colorado.

"Right now, I'm not pitching great but I am getting out of jams," Lincecum said. "I'm playing with a fine line there, walking a lot of guys, but getting out of it gives me the confidence to know that if I get into a jam, I can get out of it and my team is going to get me out of it, too."

Catcher Buster Posey and second baseman Marco Scutaro are looking to continue their respective tears at the plate.

Posey is hitting .400 with 13 RBIs in his last 16 games after getting two hits in the series opener, giving him a .451 average in 14 season meetings with the Rockies.

He's 5 for 6 with a double and a homer versus Jeff Francis, Colorado's scheduled starter.

Scutaro has hit .349 since being acquired in a trade with the Rockies (58-88) on July 27, including a .372 average with eight RBIs in 10 games against them.

Colorado has dropped 10 of 12 overall and on the road, and will give Francis (5-5, 5.68) a second consecutive start opposite Lincecum.

The left-hander was tagged for five runs in the first inning before getting pulled after the third Wednesday.

"A few bad pitches and they came out ready to swing," Francis said. "It wasn't anything about me not feeling good or not trying to be aggressive. I made some mistakes, they hit them. That turns it into a long inning."

Francis is 0-3 with a 10.95 ERA in his last three starts versus San Francisco, losing twice this year while failing to complete four innings either time.

He's seeking his first victory since beating the Dodgers on Aug. 27, going 0-1 with a 7.30 ERA in three outings since.

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