DENVER (AP) - No question, Tim Lincecum is getting better. Especially away from San Francisco.
Lincecum pitched effectively for six innings to extend his road winning streak to a career-best five straight, Brandon Crawford doubled twice and drove in two runs, and the Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 8-3 Wednesday night, opening a seven-game lead over the Dodgers atop the NL West.
Marco Scutaro added three hits, including a pair of run-scoring singles, to help the NL West-leading Giants take two of three from the Rockies and improve to 21-7 on the road since the All-Star break, best in the NL. They are unbeaten in their last nine series on the road (8-0-1).
Lincecum (9-14), who allowed three runs on six hits, has figured prominently in that run of success, going 5-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his last five road starts. The two-time NL Cy Young award winner had struggled on the road earlier, going 1-6 with a 9.00 ERA through his first 10 starts away from home.
``Right now, I'm not pitching great but I am getting out of jams,' said Lincecum, who finished with four walks and eight strikeouts, punching out the final batter he faced, Dexter Fowler, on three pitches to end a one on, two-out threat in the sixth.
``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.'
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum has been coming on strong, along with the rest of the team.
``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.'
Jeff Francis (5-5) couldn't recover from a tough first inning and took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits in three innings. He struck out five and walked none.
``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.'
Down 6-2 in the sixth after Crawford doubled for the second time and scored on Scutaro's second single, the Rockies added a run in their half of the sixth on Charlie Blackmon's pinch-hit RBI double.
But the Giants added a pair of runs in the ninth on a run-scoring triple by Hunter Pence and Joaquin Arias' sacrifice fly.
``That's what we've been doing,' Crawford said of a Giants offense that had each starter except the pitcher get at least one hit. ``Pretty much 1-through-9 has been coming through for us and that's what we did again tonight.
``I think we're a confident group right now whether it's at home or on the road. It's definitely good that we feel comfortable on the road and we're getting those wins and hopefully we can keep it going.'
The Giants had grabbed a 5-0 lead by batting around in the first inning. Gregor Blanco tripled off Francis to start the game and scored when Scutaro followed with a single. Buster Posey and Arias each singled around Pence's fielder's choice to account for another run and Hector Sanchez hit an RBI single ahead of Crawford's two-out, two-run double that rolled to the right field wall.
Colorado pulled to 5-2 behind Wilin Rosario's RBI single in the first and his solo homer in the third. Rosario drove Lincecum's 83 mph changeup deep into the left field bleachers for his team-leading 24th homer, one shy of the Rockies' rookie record set by Todd Helton (25) in 1998.
NOTES: The Giants last lost a series on the road July 6-8 when they dropped two of three in Pittsburgh. ... Giants CF Angel Pagan was held out of the starting lineup after a callous on his left hand cracked, causing a cut. He made an appearance as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and finished the game in center. ... The Giants have an off day Thursday. ... RHP Matt Cain (13-5) is slated to start Friday night's game at Arizona against the Diamondbacks' Tyler Skaggs (1-1). ... Since July 1, Crawford is hitting .441 (15 for 34) against left-handed pitching. ... Slumping Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval was given the night off. ... The Rockies also have Thursday off, their final off day of the season. ... Penny Chenery, a resident of nearby Boulder who owned and bred 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, attended the game. ... With his 24th homer, Rosario tied Troy Tulowitzki for second-most homers by a Rockies' rookie in team history.
The Associated Press News Service
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