Lincecum dazzles in defeating Brewers
Rookie hurls eight shutout innings; Feliz drives in three runs
MILWAUKEE -- Tim Lincecum still remembers the disappointment he felt walking off the field after the second inning of a June 19 loss he suffered at the hands of the Brewers at Miller Park.Things looked bleak for the Giants' prized prospect after the Brewers tagged him for six runs in those first two innings. To heck with it, Lincecum decided at that point, he would just stop worrying and simply throw the ball. And he did, responding with two shutout innings before his night was done. "I remember those last two innings pretty well, just going out there with a little bit of arrogance, like I didn't care," Lincecum said. "I was just going give it everything I've got, and whatever happens, happens." What has happened since then is Lincecum has morphed into an unhittable pitcher. The hard-throwing youngster continued a string of sizzling outings when he suffocated the Brewers with eight shutout innings Saturday afternoon, powering the Giants to an 8-0 win before 43,180 fans at Miller Park. Lincecum's dominant performance overshadowed Barry Bonds' 0-for-2 showing at the plate that left the slugger two homers shy of tying Hank Aaron's all-time record. The National League West cellar-dwellers entered the series against Milwaukee having dropped seven of their last eight games, but they've won two in a row to assure themselves of their first series win in the second half. "When you find yourself where we're at now, it's about getting ticked off and playing for pride," center fielder Dave Roberts said. "We're backed into a corner, and we have nothing else to do but go out there and just play." Lincecum (5-2) held the Brewers hitless until Ryan Braun legged out an infield single with two outs in the fourth inning. He allowed Milwaukee to generate little else against him, scattering three more hits and a walk and striking out eight in his career-high-tying eight innings. The right-hander hit 98 mph on the radar gun with his fastball, but he got the majority of his strikeouts by getting the Brewers batters to wave at his changeup. "Boy, he couldn't have pitched better than he did today," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Great stuff. Used all his pitches. Threw strikes. Pitched very efficiently. That's as good as it gets." Pedro Feliz provided Lincecum with the only run the Giants would need with an RBI single in the second inning off Brewers starter Dave Bush (8-8), who took the loss. Feliz later chipped in with a two-run homer and finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He has shredded opposing pitching at a .474 (9-for-19) clip with two homers and six RBIs during this road trip. The Giants pulled away with a five-spot in the ninth inning. "We're doing some good things offensively," Bochy said. "Hopefully, this is starting to click here, and we can start to get more consistent as far as putting runs on the board." But the Giants didn't need many runs with the way Lincecum pitched. Since the first two innings of that loss to the Brewers, the 23-year-old has allowed just four earned runs in his last 36 1/3 innings (0.99 ERA) and held opposing batters to a .161 (20-for-124) average. The Giants have won four of his five starts since that loss, which capped a four-game stretch in which Lincecum surrendered 22 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings (10.61 ERA). "There were a lot of bad things that were going on through those starts that were just sitting at the back of my mind, just making me worry," Lincecum said. "It just kind of fell apart. Now I've just gathered myself and learned to accept that if I do have a bad inning, I'll just bounce back the next." Lincecum, the Giants' first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, made just his 14th big-league start, but he already has piled up nine quality starts -- at least six innings pitched, allowing three earned runs or fewer. Giants veterans Ray Durham and Roberts raved about Lincecum after the game. Durham said he hasn't seen anyone with that little Major League experience pitching with that much savvy since Mark Buerhle of the White Sox and, more recently, Lincecum's teammate Matt Cain. Roberts simply drew a blank trying to think of pitchers with whom to compare Lincecum. "I think he's matured as a pitcher," Bochy said. "He's thinking more out there, and that's what's impressive about this young kid."
Kelvin Ang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.