Tim Lincecum is enduring the worst stretch of his career, but his most recent outing gave him reason to believe things can turn around.
Lincecum looks to win his fourth straight start against the New York Mets on Sunday and help the San Francisco Giants win for the fourth time in five games.
While San Francisco's rotation is off to a solid start, the weak link so far has been Lincecum (0-2, 10.54 ERA), whose ERA is the highest in the NL among pitchers who qualify.
Opponents are batting .344 against the former NL Cy Young Award winner, who didn't allow a 16th earned run in 2011 until his ninth start. The 16 runs match the most in a three-game stretch in Lincecum's career.
Poor first innings have been a big problem for Lincecum, who allowed five runs in six innings of a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia on Monday. He has given up nine runs in the first innings of the last three starts - including four against the Phillies - but was satisfied with his performance after the shaky beginning.
"That's pretty much what I can take from this outing, that my last five or so innings were good and I'm going to try to feed off of that," Lincecum told the Giants' official website.
The right-hander can also build off three straight wins against the Mets, allowing one run over 22 innings during that span. He is 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA in seven career starts versus New York.
Lincecum will take the mound after the Giants (7-7) had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 5-4 loss to the Mets on Saturday.
San Francisco tied the game with three runs in the ninth, but Ruben Tejada scored the winning run on a throwing error by catcher Buster Posey in the bottom of the inning.
The Giants couldn't do much off New York starter Mike Pelfrey, who gave up one run in eight innings. The Mets (8-6) had recorded two outs in the ninth when rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis misplayed Brandon Belt's popup, allowing two runs to score.
"I had faith in my teammates to pick me up but, at the same time, Pelfrey deserved that win. He pitched a great game, unbelievable,' Nieuwenhuis said.
New York's win snapped a three-game losing streak, which included a 4-3 loss to San Francisco in the series opener. Daniel Murphy had three hits and is 8 for 18 in the last four games, raising his season average to .321.
While Lincecum will want to be careful with Murphy, New York's Dillon Gee (1-1, 2.92), has to be cautious with Pablo Sandoval and Posey.
Sandoval extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a third-inning single, the longest by a Giant to start a season since Willie Mays had a 16-game run to open 1960.
Posey is 11 for 20 the last five games after going 2 for 4 Saturday.
Gee allowed one run and four hits in seven innings of a 6-1 victory over Atlanta on Monday after giving up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in his season debut against Washington on April 10.
"I'm happy with where I'm at," Gee said. "I feel like all my pitches are where they should be."
The right-hander is making his first start against the Giants after pitching 2 2-3 scoreless innings against them last season in a pair of relief appearances.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved