SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum didn't lose his anticipated clash against Tim Hudson as much as he disqualified himself from it.Lincecum issued a career-high six walks Saturday, four of which contributed to Atlanta's scoring, as the Giants fell, 5-2, to the Atlanta Braves.
"You can't accept [walking six batters] and putting your team in a back-against-the-wall type of situation," said Lincecum, who was charged with all of Atlanta's runs in 6 1/3 innings. "Today was one of those situations where I did it to myself and didn't put us in position to have a good game."San Francisco disappointed the eighth consecutive sellout crowd at AT&T Park by losing its third game in a row to fall to 10-10. Though that record is unbecoming of a reigning World Series champion, it actually might not be so bad, given the injuries to Cody Ross and Andres Torres that have jumbled the outfield, Brandon Belt's truncated stint at first base, the club's over-reliance on home runs and the defensive flaws that occur too frequently. "To be where we're at, we're pretty fortunate, because we haven't played our best ball yet," manager Bruce Bochy said. First baseman Aubrey Huff virtually echoed Bochy without knowing it, reflecting the clubhouse consensus.
"We're pretty fortunate to be 10-10 right now, to be honest with you," Huff said.
Mindful that the club is batting .245 and has scored five runs during its losing streak, Huff added, "We haven't really clicked yet -- offensively, at least. We'll be fine. We just have to keep grinding."Third baseman Pablo Sandoval scoffed when asked whether players are panicking.
"It's early," Sandoval reminded. "It's just half of the first month. We're fighting to put all the pieces together."That wouldn't happen against Atlanta right-hander Tim Hudson (3-2), who dismantled San Francisco's lineup while falling one out short of his 24th career complete game. The three-time All-Star coaxed two double-play grounders and walked none, contrasting sharply with Lincecum's performance. This would not be a repeat of Lincecum's two-hit, 14-strikeout, triumphant 1-0 mastepiece in Game 1 of last year's Division Series, which was the last time he faced Atlanta. Lincecum walked the first two batters he faced but escaped as catcher Eli Whiteside threw out Martin Prado on an attempted steal of second base and Freddie Freeman hit a double-play grounder. Lincecum wasn't as lucky throughout the rest of the afternoon. Prado, who drove in three runs, stroked a third-inning RBI single after Lincecum committed the egregious mistake of walking Hudson, the opposing pitcher. Prado's next run-scoring single in the fifth delivered No. 8 hitter Nate McLouth, who walked twice and scored both times. McLouth's second walk accelerated Atlanta's three-run, seventh-inning rally that essentially settled the outcome. Lincecum admitted that issuing the free pass to Hudson, who was trying to bunt, resulted from overzealous attempts to make perfect pitches. "I wanted to get a ground ball and have either a popup or hit one back to myself where I could make a play on it," said Lincecum (2-2). "But I only threw one good strike in that whole at-bat. The rest were kind of flinging everywhere." Lincecum was subdued but not dejected.
"If I get things back to where they need to be -- my good rhythm, throwing from the right slot, getting a good bullpen between this start and next -- I think we'll be fine," he said.It probably would comfort Lincecum only slightly to learn that Atlanta's offense reflected a concerted effort. "I think he had really good stuff," said Hudson, a .396 hitter as a senior at Auburn University in 1997. "I just think our guys put some really good at-bats on him. We took a lot of balls that most people swing at. He does a really good job of throwing things in and out of the zone and getting swings and misses. Today we weren't swinging at those pitches. That's the way you have to attack him. You have to be patient because it's almost a flip of the coin whether it's going to be a strike or not." "We all put together some good at-bats," said Braves catcher Brian McCann, whose two-run single off Javier Lopez culminated Atlanta's seventh-inning rally. "He's never really off his game a whole lot."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.