SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The calendar has flipped to July and Tim Lincecum still looks awfully average.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner was knocked around again in San Francisco's 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on Monday, taking a losing record into July for the first time in his career.
Lincecum allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked two in his shortest outing since going four innings on June 11.
``I didn't feel like I had a good rhythm or energy, but that's the excuse I seem to give every time,' said Lincecum, who has a 3.14 ERA. ``I fell behind hitters and every pitch seemed difficult instead of cruising. I didn't have it from the start. You have to grind through it. I didn't grind hard enough. I wasn't hitting my spots.
``It was a pretty bad outing all the way around.'
Chase Headley, Orlando Hudson and Ryan Ludwick each had an RBI off Lincecum (6-7) to chase the Giants ace. Nick Hundley added an RBI single in the eighth and Will Venable had a solo home run in the ninth.
Clayton Richard (5-9) struck out two and gave up two hits and three walks in five innings. After two separate four-game losing streaks this season, the lefty has won three straight.
Heath Bell allowed a run in the ninth and put the potential tying runs in scoring position with one out. Then he got Andres Torres to fly out and Aaron Rowand to ground out for his 25th save.
The rally came far too late for the Giants.
``Timmy was off. His stuff was not quite there. He was searching a little bit,' said Bochy, who selected Lincecum to the All-Star team with one of his manager's picks.
The victory was a small slice of satisfaction for a Padres team that was eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the 2010 season at AT&T Park, and it was just another stinging loss for San Francisco's anemic offense.
About the lone bright spot before the ninth was Pablo Sandoval, who hit a two-run homer into McCovey Cove and finished a triple shy of the cycle. He also extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games and has an extra-base hit in nine straight.
The Padres wasted little time against Lincecum on a day he was hardly at his dominating best.
They put a runner on base in all five innings against San Francisco's starter. And the aggressive, free-swinging approach worked from the opening pitch.
Venable and Jason Bartlett singled to start the first. Venable scored on Headley's sacrifice fly to center, and Hudson drove in Bartlett with a single later in the inning to give San Diego a 2-0 lead.
After Bartlett doubled to open the fifth, Ludwick hit an RBI single to put San Diego ahead 3-0. That was enough to get Bochy to dig into his bullpen early.
Lincecum allowed three runs on seven hits and has only one win in his last seven starts. He struck out four and walked two in his shortest outing since going four innings on June 11, and he's never had a losing record this late in the season.
Richard was in complete control against the offensively challenged Giants. He induced double plays in the second and fifth, and the only time San Francisco reached second base against Richard came on Sandoval's two-out double in the first.
Richard left after throwing just 76 pitches through five innings because of shoulder stiffness, which isn't expected to affect his next start. He struck out two and gave up two hits and three walks, and perhaps the Padres should've stuck with Richard starter longer.
Sandoval smacked a 2-1 pitch from Ernesto Frieri over the right-field wall for the first splash shot of the season, trimming San Diego's lead to 3-2 and sending kayakers scurrying into the chilly waters for the ball. The home run was the 56th by a Giants player into McCovey Cove, with 35 belonging to home run king Barry Bonds.
``It was a fastball in. I was looking for something to get a base hit,' Sandoval said. ``I got lucky and he made a mistake.'
Notes: Giants OF Cody Ross was replaced by a pinch-runner in the sixth inning because of a mild left hamstring strain. He is day to day. ... Giants LHP Jonathan Sanchez (biceps tendinitis) threw on flat ground before the game. He's not expected back in the rotation until after the All-Star break.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: http://www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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