Lincecum takes step backward as Giants lose to Red Sox
08/20/2013 12:00 AM
08/20/2013 10:43 AM
SAN FRANCISCO – Since interleague play began, the Giants and Red Sox have played three full series, in 2004, 2007 and 2010. The first two seasons ended with Boston winning the World Series, including their first in 86 years. The third saw the Giants hoist the Commissioner's Trophy for the first time since moving to San Francisco.
The teams met again Monday night at AT&T Park, with the Red Sox taking the opener of a three-game series 7-0, and if that pattern continues this year, it doesn't appear the Giants will be the ones carrying it on. Boston, meanwhile, leads the American League in wins after Jon Lester came within two outs of a complete game while handing Tim Lincecum his 13th loss.
The Giants, who are 4-11 in interleague play this year, still can make a mark on the playoff picture – but a secondary one, depending on how they play in series like this. It's the spoiler role, unfamiliar to them in the past few seasons, that manager Bruce Bochy said Monday the Giants would rather not try to embrace.
"It's not something I relish or cherish," Bochy said. "You talk about having a chance to be a spoiler, and that means you're not very good. That's not good to hear.
"Your job's coming out here and trying to win every game, whether you're in last or first place. That's what we'll do. Trying to make our season by being the spoiler – no."
Lincecum, who still has something to pitch for with free agency looming at the end of the season, had his second consecutive rough outing, allowing five runs on nine hits before exiting one batter into the sixth. He allowed runners in every inning but paid most in a bizarre second in which the Red Sox scored three times.
It was still 1-0 following Will Middlebrooks' sacrifice fly, with runners on first and third, one out and Lester batting. But Lincecum appeared to lose his footing on his first pitch to Lester and didn't release the ball, with the balk forcing in a second run.
"Just the foot slipped," Lincecum said.
After Lester bunted, Lincecum got Jacoby Ellsbury into a two-strike count but lost him to catcher's interference when an Ellsbury swing hit Buster Posey's glove. Shane Victorino followed with an RBI single, and Lincecum finished the second trailing 3-0 and having thrown 49 pitches.
"It was pretty evident he didn't have his good stuff tonight," Bochy said. "He was battling, but it's tough when you're facing a good-hitting ballclub and your stuff's not quite there."
The Red Sox came in as the highest-scoring offense in baseball, and of the 28 hitters Lincecum faced, 14 reached base. After three starts in a row of at least seven innings and two or fewer runs allowed, Lincecum has given up 11 runs on 16 hits over 11 innings in his last two outings.
Asked to evaluate the Red Sox's lineup, Lincecum, who said he left too many off-speed pitches up in the zone, said, "It's hard to say just because I didn't really execute my game plan.
"I wasn't doing a good job of putting guys away when I got ahead, and the pitches that I was leaving up were in the middle of the plate."
Lester, meanwhile, allowed six singles and has given up one run in 17 1/3 career innings at AT&T Park. The Giants put two on with one out in three of the final four innings but didn't score, and with one on and two outs in the seventh, Bochy let reliever Guillermo Moscoso hit in a five-run game.
Moscoso grounded out in his 16th career plate appearance. But his three innings in relief let Bochy rest most of his bullpen.
Notes – Angel Pagan (hamstring) will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Fresno in two or three days. Pagan, targeting a Sept. 1 return from hamstring surgery, was 0 for 3 with a walk in his first two rehab games in the rookie league in Arizona.
Jeremy Affeldt (groin) could begin throwing off a mound in two or three days, Bochy said. Affeldt played catch off flat ground before Monday's game.
About This BlogMatt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.
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