SAN FRANCISCO -- With the start of Tuesday night's series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks nearly three hours away, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was discussing the importance of sustained effort. It would behoove his National League West champions, he said, to enter the postseason with their winning mindset intact."It's about playing the game right," Bochy said. That goal became unattainable rather quickly for the Giants, as Tim Lincecum's recent burst of competence ended with a 7-2 loss to the D-backs. Lincecum (10-15) matched a career worst Tuesday by yielding seven earned runs, three coming on Paul Goldschmidt's third-inning homer, while lasting two batters into the fifth inning. Goldschmidt added sacrifice flies in the first inning off Lincecum and in the fifth off Dan Runzler to finish with a career-high five RBIs. Here's the good news for Lincecum: He probably won't face any hitter during the postseason more challenging than Goldschmidt. The D-backs first baseman has become Lincecum's biggest nemesis in a little more than a year in the Major Leagues, sporting a .571 average (8-for-14) with five home runs and 10 RBIs against the right-hander. "He's kind of got my number right now. I haven't found a consistent way to get him out," Lincecum said, admitting that he has tried too hard "at times" to throw Goldschmidt a perfect pitch -- which often has the opposite result. Goldschmidt ended a streak of 116 homerless at-bats with his drive off the left-field foul pole. He delivered his previous homer Aug. 16 at St. Louis. "The wind kind of blows it back fair; it barely gets out," Goldschmidt said. "... It's like a perfect storm. I wish I knew how to explain it; I'd try to do it more often." Lincecum's troubles against Goldschmidt have paralleled his woes against Arizona. He lost his sixth consecutive start to the D-backs and has recorded a 6.75 ERA in that span. His outing also represented a reversal of fortune. Not only did the Giants win Lincecum's previous four starts, but he also posted a personal 3-0 record with a 2.55 ERA in that span. "This was one he has to put behind him because he's really done a nice job this second half," Bochy said. Lincecum provided a quick indication that this wouldn't be his night when he opened the game by walking Adam Eaton on four pitches.
"From the first hitter, he was out of sorts, battling his delivery tonight," Bochy said.This appearance was enough to sour Lincecum's statistics. His ERA soared to 5.15 after he entered the game with a figure under 5.00 (4.91) for the first time this year. His first-inning total of runs allowed climbed to 28 and he flung his 17th wild pitch. Both figures lead the Majors. Lincecum will have one more regular-season start before the Division Series begins. His goal for his final tuneup is simple.
"I just want to attack hitters a lot better," he said. That's largely because he ranks second in the NL with 88 walks -- which, of course, are linked to the wild pitches."When you eliminate walks, you eliminate those kinds of situations," Lincecum said. "I feel like a lot of my wild pitches come when I'm trying to throw a perfect pitch to a guy in a favorable hitter's count, like 2-0 or 2-1, and I just throw something in the dirt or 50 feet, not giving Hector [Sanchez] a really good chance to make a play." The Giants mustered two hits through seven innings -- fourth-inning doubles by Marco Scutaro, who lengthened his career-best hitting streak to 13 games, and Buster Posey, who hiked his RBI total to 99. The last Giant to reach 100 RBIs in a season was Barry Bonds, who amassed 101 in 2004. In the eighth, pinch-hitter Ryan Theriot doubled home Xavier Nady, who had rapped a pinch-hit single.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.