WASHINGTON -- Tim Lincecum was so solid in the first half that nobody blinked when manager Bruce Bochy moved the right-hander up to the third spot in the rotation after the All-Star break. Since then, Lincecum's season has fallen apart.
He had nearly as many runs allowed as outs recorded in a 6-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. Lincecum was knocked out with two down in the third and charged with six runs, four of which were earned.
In seven second-half starts, Lincecum is 1-4 with an 8.24 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting .346 against Lincecum in the second half. He gave up six hits Saturday, walked four and threw two wild pitches.
The Giants staked Lincecum to a 2-0 lead when Hunter Pence crushed a Jordan Zimmermann fastball that came in at 93 mph and was up around Pence's shoulders. Lincecum gave the lead right back. Denard Span hit a leadoff triple, Anthony Rendon walked and Jayson Werth singled to get the Nationals on the board. A double play brought Rendon home.
Lincecum's struggles were exacerbated by poor defense. With a runner on second and two outs in the second, Rendon hit a slow roller to third. Pablo Sandoval had not made an error in 73 games, but his throw to first sailed into the seats down the right field line. A run scored and Rendon would come around on another single by Werth, giving the Nationals a 5-2 lead.
Lincecum gave up a solo homer to Asdrubal Cabrera in the third and was soon replaced by Yusmeiro Petit, who threw 4? 1/3 perfect innings. Petit has pitched 16? 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings out of the bullpen and has retired 37 consecutive batters since a rough start in Philadelphia on July 22.
That's the kind of line that would ordinarily make Petit a strong candidate to start in Lincecum's place if the Giants were so inclined, but Petit has his warts, too. He has a 6.32 ERA in six spot starts this season.
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