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10/05/10 9:20 PM ET

Lincecum gets nod in Game 1 vs. Braves

Giants' ace rebounded from tough August with brilliant September

SAN FRANCISCO -- Known by nicknames including "The Freak," "The Franchise" and "Seabiscuit," Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum can make a name for himself as a clutch performer when he starts Thursday's Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves (6:30 p.m. PT on TBS).

Lincecum, the reigning two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts against Atlanta this year. He has thrived against the Braves through his career, posting a 6-2 record with a 2.89 ERA in eight starts.

The 26-year-old was San Francisco's leading winner during the regular season, finishing with a 16-10 mark. Though Lincecum's 3.43 ERA was the highest of any of his three full Major League seasons, he led the NL in strikeouts (231) for the third consecutive campaign.

Lincecum joined Christy Mathewson (1903-05) and Amos Rusie (1893-95) as the only pitchers in franchise history to lead the league in strikeouts in three consecutive seasons.

Bounce-back finish
Tim Lincecum's month-by-month statistics
April 4 0 1.27 35 1/3 7 43
May 1 2 4.95 36 1/3 23 40
June 3 1 3.09 32 12 34
July 3 1 3.02 41 2/3 13 35
August 0 5 7.82 25 1/3 13 27
September 5 1 1.94 41 2/3 8 52

Lincecum endured inconsistency, posting a 5-0 record with a 1.76 ERA through eight starts before enduring a four-start stretch between May 20-June 6 in which he allowed 17 earned runs in 22 1/3 innings. He recovered to win five of his next seven decisions, a stretch that concluded with a six-hit shutout of the Mets in the Giants' first game following the All-Star break.

Lincecum then prompted alarm by losing all five of his starts and compiling a 7.82 ERA in August. But he regained arm strength and confidence to put up impressive September numbers: 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA, 52 strikeouts and eight walks in 41 2/3 innings.

"This year, probably, has been the epitome of a roller-coaster ride for me," Lincecum told MLB.com recently.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.