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05/21/08 2:24 AM ET
Lincecum, bullpen snap Giants' slide
Starter battles through six; relievers hold on, despite scare
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
DENVER -- The end of the Giants' six-game losing streak should have revolved around their offense Tuesday night. They amassed 14 hits, including two home runs, and generated the wall-to-wall scoring that they've lacked. But the drama of San Francisco's 6-5 decision over the Colorado Rockies featured the bullpen, which had stumbled recently before proving scary, yet effective at Coors Field. Tyler Walker reaffirmed manager Bruce Bochy's faith in him as the eighth-inning setup specialist, and Brian Wilson survived Colorado's two-run ninth to record his 13th save in 15 chances. Despite allowing 10 runs in his previous four appearances, Walker knew he'd be called upon to perform his usual duties after Keiichi Yabu, the first reliever to protect starter Tim Lincecum's victory, pitched a perfect seventh inning. "I didn't really think twice about it," Walker said. "When Yabu got that last out, I made my way toward the mound to start warming up. The call came, and it was business as usual." Well, not quite. Attempting to preserve a 4-3 edge, Walker blanked the Rockies, but only after allowing two singles and Garrett Atkins' one-out drive to left field that looked like a two-run homer but settled in Fred Lewis' glove two steps in front of the wall. "It wasn't the prettiest inning. I'm sure I had a few people's hearts in their throats," Walker said. But, he added, "A win is a win is a win is a win." In the ninth, Lewis hit a monstrous homer to center field, and Aaron Rowand stroked an RBI single to pad the Giants' lead. On came Wilson, who's on record as saying that he prefers working with one-run margins instead of more sizable cushions. "We were hoping he'd have an easy one -- three up, three down," Bochy said. "But Willie has a way to keep you on the edge of your seat." Despite the three-run lead, Wilson appeared headed for an easy, uneventful save by retiring the first two Rockies. Then Scott Podsednik singled and Clint Barmes homered on an 0-2 pitch. "It was like the exact replica of the pitch I threw [Pat] Burrell," Wilson said, referring to his last blown save, May 2 at Philadelphia, and the game-winning homer hit by the Phillies slugger. Wilson again crept a strike away from ending the game, but Matt Holliday lined a 1-2 pitch off the right-field wall, about three feet below the top of the barrier. After Bochy ordered Todd Helton intentionally walked, Wilson recovered by striking out Garrett Atkins on a 2-2 fastball. "A fastball that cut. Thank goodness," Wilson said. Wilson insisted that he felt no extra pressure to end the losing streak. "I didn't want to let the team down after a hard day's work," he said. The other Giants exhibited similar determination. Lincecum (6-1) endured what he called "one of my worst outings ever," walking four and flinging two wild pitches as his command eluded him. But he managed to last six innings, surrendering three runs and five hits. "I just had a hard time finding any rhythm at all," Lincecum said. "I was trying to find it from pitch to pitch, as opposed to just having it." By contrast, the Giants' offense functioned from the outset. They scored twice in the first inning with two outs off Rockies starter Aaron Cook (6-3), as Randy Winn and Bengie Molina doubled and Rowand blooped an RBI single. Molina's drive to left-center was initially ruled a home run, but the umpiring crew changed the call after they realized that the hit struck the yellow line atop the outfield wall and bounced back onto the playing field. Rich Aurilia delivered his fifth homer of the season one inning later, but an out he made in the fourth inning was just as valuable. It was a grounder to second base with nobody out that advanced John Bowker to third and set up Omar Vizquel's suicide-squeeze bunt to bring Bowker home. "That right there is what we need to be doing," Rowand said, citing Aurilia's productive out. "It makes a difference in all these one- and two-run ballgames."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.