Lincecum aims to put struggles behind him versus Padres

7:13 AM, Sep 30, 2012   |    comments
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Tim Lincecum owns two NL Cy Young Awards, but he might not get a start in the upcoming National League Division Series for the San Francisco Giants.

Lincecum gets one more chance to show he can contribute in the playoffs as he takes the mound on Sunday afternoon for the finale of a three-game series with the San Diego Padres.

Lincecum has had season-long struggles, going 10-15 with a 5.15 earned run average through 32 starts. He appeared to be on the upswing by going 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 36 strikeouts in six outings from Aug. 21-Sept. 18, but ran into some problems his last time out.

Facing the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, the righty matched a career high with seven earned runs allowed, yielding five hits and four walks in four-plus innings of work.

"He was just off tonight, not much to say about it," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who figures to be choosing from Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito for a spot in his NLDS rotation.

The 28-year-old Lincecum has good career numbers versus the Padres, going 10-5 with a 2.28 ERA in 21 meetings, but lasted just 4 2/3 innings the last time he faced the club on July 25. He took a loss, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out eight.

He'll be opposed by Edinson Volquez, who aims to wrap his first season with the Padres with a winning record.

Volquez has won four of his past six starts and improved to 11-11 with a 4.13 ERA in 31 starts with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. The righty yielded six hits and two walks while striking out four.

"Everything is working. My fastball command is better, my curve, my change-up, everything is better," said Volquez, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds along with three other players on Dec. 17 for starter Mat Latos.

The 29-year-old held the Giants to a pair of runs over seven innings in his lone previous encounter against them this season on July 24, getting a no- decision to leave his career record versus San Francisco at 2-1 with a 5.54 ERA in five games.

The Padres will try to close out the home portion of their 2012 schedule with a series win over the Giants after taking Saturday's meeting 7-3.

Chase Headley clubbed a two-run homer and Jesus Guzman added a solo shot for San Diego, who halted a three-game slide.

Eric Stults allowed six hits -- including Hunter Pence's three-run homer in the first -- with three walks and five strikeouts over six innings in the win.

"I think any time you let the other team know that you're rattled or flustered, they kind of feed off that," Stults said. "So after giving up three in the first, I was just trying to take it one hitter at a time and work as deep as I could."

Madison Bumgarner lasted just four innings and gave up five runs -- four earned -- in the loss for the Giants.

"He was a little off and it affected his command. He was battling himself out there," Bochy said about Bumgarner. "He was out of synch out there at times and he had trouble getting the ball where he wanted."

Buster Posey had a pair of hits for the Giants, who have already clinched the NL West title. They are currently four games behind the Washington Nationals for the best record in the NL.

Posey is not expected to play on Sunday as he chases the NL batting title. He is hitting .337 on the season, eight points better than the Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen.

The Giants have won 17 of their last 24 versus the Padres, winning five of eight in San Diego this season.


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