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10/21/10 1:36 AM ET

Lincecum set for crucial Game 1 rematch

Giants ace bested Phillies' Halladay in NLCS opener

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Bruce Bochy managed the 1998 Padres into the World Series, he did it with the experienced Kevin Brown at the top of a strong rotation. This year, the young Tim Lincecum has been just as formidable and will be a big reason if the Giants make it to the World Series.

For Game 5 on Thursday (4:30 p.m. PT, FOX) at AT&T Park, it will be Lincecum-Roy Halladay in a rerun of Game 1's histrionics. And now with a victory, Lincecum has a chance to put the Giants into the Fall Classic for the first time since 2002.

Tale of the Tape: NLCS Game 5
2010 Regular Season
Overall: 33 GS, 21-10, 2.44 ERA, 30 BB, 219 Ks
Overall: 33 GS, 16-10, 3.43 ERA, 76 BB, 231 Ks
Key stat: League-low 231 hits allowed this season
Key stat: 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings
2010: 2 GS, 1-1, 2.25 ERA
Career: 2 GS, 1-1, 2.25 ERA
2010: 2 GS, 2-0, 1.69 ERA
Career: 2 GS, 2-0, 1.69 ERA
2010: 1 GS, 0-1, 6.43 ERA Career: 2 GS, 0-1, 7.30 ERA
2010: 18 GS, 10-7, 3.40 ERA Career: 63 GS, 31-15, 2.99 ERA
Against this opponent
2010: 2 GS, 0-2, 5.79 ERA Career: 4 GS, 0-3, 6.68 ERA
2010: 2 GS, 1-0, 2.94 ERA Career: 8 GS, 3-1, 3.25 ERA
Loves to face: Andres Torres (1-for-7)
Hates to face: Edgar Renteria (4-for-11)
Loves to face: Chase Utley (2-for-20, 8 Ks)
Hates to face: Ryan Howard (6-for-19, 3 HRs)
"I mean, it's crept in the back of my mind, obviously, just because I've never been here before and those are the things that people dream of," said Lincecum before the Giants defeated the Phillies, 6-5, in Wednesday's Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. "I'm sure everybody in [our clubhouse] has, as far as my teammates go."

In 1998, the Padres traded for Brown, who spent only that year in San Diego. The year before, he was a member of the World Series-winning Marlins and was traded away in their post-championship fire sale. A year later, he signed a $100 million free-agent deal with the Dodgers.

But for that one year it was a happy marriage. During the regular season, Brown was 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA in 35 starts. In the postseason, he defeated Randy Johnson -- then with the Astros -- in a memorable 2-1 Game 1 of the NL Division Series, and the Braves' Tom Glavine, 3-0, in Game 2 of the NLCS. Bochy even used Brown in relief to no avail later in that series.

Despite an 0-5 August, Lincecum was 16-10 during the regular season with a 3.43 ERA in 33 starts. Thus far in his first postseason, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner has been nothing short of spectacular. He defeated Derek Lowe and the Braves in Game 1 of the NLDS, 1-0, allowing only two hits and striking out 14 in throwing a complete game. In Game 1 of this series, he outlasted Halladay, 4-3. In his prior start, Halladay had pitched only the second no-hitter in postseason history.

Bochy, in his 16 years of managing (the first 12 with the Padres), hasn't been back to the World Series since '98. If he does go back this time, it will be because Lincecum has replicated Brown, winning the most important games against the opposition's best pitchers.

"I guess the best comparison I can make between the two is they're incredible talents and they both have the great makeup you like from a starting pitcher," Bochy said. "They compete very well. Timmy didn't have that playoff experience, but this kid's pitched Opening Day for us and those things help a young pitcher.

"It gets down to having the equipment that these guys have -- the tough pitchers. They're good because of their mental toughness. Brown, he had it; Timmy has it."

The big difference, of course, is that Lincecum is homegrown. Brown wasn't. Lincecum was the 10th pick overall by the Giants in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft and is one of four pitchers in the playoff rotation who all came up through the system.

"It just goes to show the philosophy of this organization, -- building around pitching," Lincecum said. "It's gotten us here. The games in which we haven't scored a lot of runs, our pitchers have come up big."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.