Monday, September 14, 2009

Lincecum dazzles to cut Wild Card deficit

Molina homers, Rowand drives in two in Giants' victory
By Chris Haft /

SAN FRANCISCO -- In a spectacular return to the Giants' starting rotation, Tim Lincecum struck out 11 in seven innings to lead San Francisco to a 5-1 victory Monday over the Colorado Rockies.

The Giants, who swept Colorado in a three-game series here Aug. 28-30, trimmed the Rockies' lead in the National League Wild Card standings to 3 1/2 games. San Francisco and Colorado have 18 and 17 games remaining, respectively.

Lincecum (14-5) missed his scheduled start last Tuesday against San Diego with lower back spasms. He lacked his usual command at the outset, walking one batter in each of the first three innings. But the right-hander maintained his aptitude for strikeouts for the duration of his 116-pitch outing, striking out at least one batter in each of his seven innings.

As if for emphasis, Lincecum, who leads the Major Leagues with 244 strikeouts, ended four of the final five innings he pitched with third strikes.

The Giants opened the scoring with three second-inning runs off Colorado starter Jason Hammel (8-8), who lasted six innings. They loaded the bases with nobody out on an assortment of singles: Bengie Molina's bloop to right-center field, Juan Uribe's line drive to right and Travis Ishikawa's dribbler between the pitcher's mound and third base. Aaron Rowand followed with the fourth consecutive single, a sharp grounder into left field that scored Molina and Uribe. Lincecum tapped a sacrifice bunt before Eugenio Velez's sacrifice fly delivered Ishikawa.

Molina, batting fifth and occupying a spot other than cleanup for the first time since late in the 2007 season, hit his 18th homer of the season with two outs in the third inning. Velez added a bases-loaded triple in the Giants' five-run eighth.


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