CHICAGO (AP) - On the night their seven-game winning streak came to an end, the San Francisco Giants were still encouraged by what they have accomplished at the midway point of the season.
The defending World Series champs are in first in the NL West with a 46-35 mark, compared to 41-40 a year ago when they were in fourth place, 7 1/2 games back.
On Wednesday night they got a second straight strong outing from ace Tim Lincecum in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, who scored with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez's RBI single.
Lincecum went seven innings, allowing five hits and a run with two walks and nine strikeouts. Chicago's Ryan Dempster was just as effective, allowing three hits and a run in eight-plus innings.
``He was good,' San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum, the Giants' two-time Cy Young Award winner. ``Good stuff. Another well-pitched game.'
Bochy said the Giants have been able to move into first despite some major injuries like the one to catcher Buster Posey.
``We haven't had just little nagging injuries, we're losing guys for extended periods,' Bochy said. ``I'm proud the guys are battling every day. This was a tough loss, no way around it. (Dempster) pitched well and we didn't do much off of him.'
After Pat Burrell led off the ninth against Dempster with a double, closer Carlos Marmol relieved and struck out Andres Torres, but Emmanuel Burriss singled to center to score pinch-runner Bill Hall with the tying run with Burriss taking second.
Pablo Sandoval was walked intentionally before Aubrey Huff blooped a ball to center that Tony Campana couldn't catch and fell for a single. Waiting to see if the ball would be caught, Burriss held and had to stop at third, loading the bases. Cody Ross then grounded into an inning-ending double play.
``He came in and dove and it tipped off his glove. I really wasn't sure if it was caught but I knew it was close. I didn't know what was happening until it happened,' Burriss said.
``Ideally you want to be halfway if it falls in and you go from there, but it was hard to tell at first,' Bochy said of Burriss not scoring.
``Looks like he thought the ball was caught. He didn't see it bounce away, so he was going back to tag up.'
In the bottom of the ninth, Sergio Romo (3-1) gave up an infield single to leadoff batter Campana, who moved to second on Reed Johnson's sacrifice. After a groundout moved him to third, Ramirez hit an 0-2 pitch to left to win it.
After Carlos Pena doubled in the seventh, Blake DeWitt hit an RBI single to put the Cubs ahead against Lincecum, who gave up five hits in seven innings.
``I felt pretty good. I missed with a couple pitches - changeup up to Pena, fastball over the plate, up to DeWitt, but other than that I felt like I carried a good rhythm through the game,' Lincecum said.
``Fell behind too many guys 2-0 and had to battle back, but I felt like I settled down by the fourth inning.'
Lincecum had only one victory in six June starts, but feels he's really starting to do what he's capable of. In his previous outing he allowed no runs and three hits in seven innings, striking out 12 against the Twins to get his only win of the month.
``Not as consistent as I would like it to be, but given tonight and the last outing, I have a lot of positives to work off of and carry into the second half,' Lincecum said. ``We're still in first place, so that's a good thing for us. We're going to bounce back and battle every game.'
Notes: Game-time temperature was 65 and with a wind blowing in from right at 10 mph the ball didn't carry. ... The Giants were still undecided on their starting pitchers for Saturday and Sunday in interleague games at Detroit. Madison Bumgarner will start Friday.
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