SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum opened spring training the same way he ended a disappointing 2011 season, pitching against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
And just as he did last season, the former two-time Cy Young winner looked both vulnerable and untouchable in his two-inning stint during the Giants' 9-6 loss to an Arizona split squad on Saturday.
``He got better as he went,' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
That wasn't the case last season, particularly against the Diamondbacks. Facing Arizona, Lincecum had outings both spectacular and utterly forgettable.
On May 10, he held Arizona scoreless on four hits over eight innings. More than three months later, as the Giants were trying to stay in the pennant chase and defend their World Series title, he allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings on September 3. The he gave up another five runs in five innings, this time on eight hits with only three strikeouts, in his final start on September 25.
After striking out Ryan Roberts on three pitches to open the game Saturday, Lincecum allowed a run on three consecutive singles and was spared giving up a second run only when Justin Upton was thrown out easily at home by Melky Cabrera for the inning's second out.
Lincecum then gave up a leadoff single to Lyle Overbay in the second inning before retiring the side in order.
``I kinda surprised myself that first batter,' said Lincecum, who finished 13-14 last year for his first losing season. ``The first game, against an NL West rival, the adrenaline was flowing. I almost jumped into the grass cutout. But I told myself to calm down and the second inning was a whole lot better.'
Lincecum, originally scheduled to pitch only one inning, threw 21 of his 33 pitches for strikes while allowing the one run and four hits He struck out two.
``Yesterday it was one inning,' Lincecum said. ``Today it was 40 pitches and we'll see what happens. I'm fine with that. You want to get as much work in as you can.'
Arizona right-hander Josh Collmenter, who scattered five hits over seven innings to beat Lincecum in that final regular-season meeting last season, wasn't quite as sharp Saturday.
After a quick first inning, Collmenter gave up three runs on three singles, a walk and a run-scoring double play. He threw 25 of his 34 pitches for strikes.
``It felt good to get back out there and face live hitters rather than having my teammates up there,' said Collmenter, who finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.
Collmenter started last season in the bullpen before moving into the rotation for good in mid-May but said he is taking nothing for granted this season.
``As much competition as there is in this clubhouse, you want to work and make sure to earn everything you get and never assume it's being handed to you,' he said.
NOTES: Collmenter was one of four players whose contracts were renewed by the Diamondbacks earlier Saturday. . Chris Young and Ryan Roberts both homered for the Diamondbacks. . Hector Sanchez and Brandon Belt hit solo shots for the Giants. . Young also showed off his defense in the third inning, making a lunging, falling catch over his left shoulder to take an extra-base hit away from Aubrey Huff. . An MRI of Giants RHP Dan Runzler's ailing left shoulder showed no structural damage but the 26-year-old will fly Monday to Florida to meet with orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews. ``We're pretty optimistic because the tests came back pretty good,' said Runzler, who had pain in the same spot in the shoulder in the Giants' final game last year.
The Associated Press News Service
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