PHOENIX -- Tim Lincecum dug the Giants pitchers' groove even deeper Friday night, holding the D-backs to a run on five hits through eight innings, while striking out 12 with one walk in San Francisco's 5-1 win. Following five stingy games in which he and his mound-mates had doled out a total of five runs, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner certainly didn't want to be the one to break the spell. "You don't want to be the guy who struggles. You want to keep the streak alive," Lincecum said following his first win of the season in his fourth start. "If anything, you want to be better than the guy before.
"This was big. Good to get one on the road." The win was the Giants' first on the road after six losses, leaving the Washington Nationals (0-7) as the Majors' lone winless road club. Lincecum (1-1) has held Arizona to one run in 16 innings in back-to-back starts, with 25 strikeouts to one walk, contributing to what has been a Magnificent Seven for the Giants staff. In their last seven games, San Francisco starters and relievers have teamed to allow six earned runs in 55 innings (an ERA of 0.98). That streak began with a 2-0 win over the D-backs, who have scored three runs in four meetings with the Giants. "It's great to get this kind of pitching -- and we know it," understated Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "Those are back-to-back great outings for Lincecum. He had great stuff. We figured out a way to get some runs on the board, but it all starts with the kid on the mound." Two of the gems in the string of six were spun by Lincecum, within six days. Some pitchers find it challenging to face the same team twice within such a short span. But Lincecum gave the impression he could go up against the D-backs morning, noon and night, and the results wouldn't change. "Facing a team back-to-back could be more difficult, because they get a better idea of how you pitch," Bochy said. "But when Tim's on, he's just tough. Doesn't matter how often you see him." "I try to be as aggressive as I can against every team," Lincecum said. "For some reason, I've been able to be more aggressive against their guys. Strike one is so big -- it keeps them from being aggressive." Perception sometimes counters reality: Lincecum started off seven of his 12 K victims with ball one. Yet, the luxury of five runs -- only the second time in 12 games the Giants' own struggling offense has topped four -- left Lincecum in total control. So much so, in fact, he couldn't wait for the D-backs to get some men on base -- so he pitched out of the stretch, to work on his changeup grip, during the three-up, three-down eighth. San Francisco took a tenuous 2-0 lead against lefty Doug Davis on solo homers by Edgar Renteria in the first and Bengie Molina in the fourth. After Davis himself broke through against Lincecum with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, Rich Aurilia regained the Giants' two-run lead with an RBI single in the top of the sixth. Molina added a two-run double in the seventh, capping a three-hit, three-RBI night for the cleanup hitter. "Molina is just clutch," said Bochy. Lincecum's scariest moment came in the third, when Felipe Lopez's stealth comebacker caught him flush beneath his back side. "I didn't see it, but I felt it. Got me pretty good," said Lincecum, who threw a few trial pitches under the watchful eye of Bochy, then resumed his mastery. "But I've gotten hit by plenty of balls." The D-backs thought they had tied it at 1-1 in the third, when Eric Byrnes' two-out smash clanged high off the left-field wall. Arizona manager Bob Melvin challenged third-base umpire Chad Fairchild's ruling of a double, contending the ball cleared the yellow line atop the fence. The umpires did retreat to invoke the instant replay monitors, but very quickly returned to stand by Fairchild's call.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.