Backed by Colvin, Lincecum shines to beat Braves
Right-hander strikes out 11, allows two hits; outfielder drives in three
SAN FRANCISCO -- After struggling in each of his first two outings, Tim Lincecum was good, but not great in his next five starts.
On Monday night, the right-hander was great. Lincecum reminded Giants fans of the pitcher that won back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards as the Giants beat the Braves, 4-2.
"It was vintage Timmy the way he had his good secondary pitches going along with the fastball," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He was using both sides, all quadrants. He was going up with the ball and had a good curveball, changeup, slider and mixed it up well."
Lincecum's best outing of the season, along with two hits and three RBIs from Tyler Colvin, led the Giants to their 14th win in the past 18 games.
Although Lincecum began the game with the NL's second-worst opponents' batting average (.329), he held the Braves hitless through 4 1/3 innings and finished the night having allowed one run on two hits while striking out 11 over 7 2/3 innings - his longest outing of the season.
"I was able to keep my pitch count down relatively and that allowed me to have that leash to get out there in the seventh and eighth inning, which I've been looking for," Lincecum said after throwing 70 of his 113 pitches for strikes.
The lights-out performance was Lincecum's first game with 10 or more strikeouts this season and the 36th such game of his career.
"This guy has [an arsenal]," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Today he had his fastball going, a slider and a split. We just couldn't figure out when he was going to throw all of those pitches. But to me, he's got some pretty good weapons and he had them all working tonight."
Nearly everything Lincecum threw was effective, but once he used his slider to induce a ground-ball double play from Justin Upton in the first inning, he had a feeling it was going to be a good night.
"When it started working, that slider, early in the game, I just sort of leaned on it," Lincecum said. "And whatever [catcher Hector] Sanchez was calling, I was throwing, too. He had a good plan and we were just trying to be aggressive in the zone, making them swing at pitches that we wanted them to. It worked out."
While Lincecum was brilliant on the mound, Colvin led the way in the batter's box.
Colvin -- who was called up from Triple-A Fresno prior to Saturday's game and had just one at-bat on the season -- put the Giants on the board with a solo home run into McCovey Cove in the second inning.
Although it wasn't his first Major League home run, the blast was Colvin's first hit as a member of the Giants and came in his first home at-bat. He admitted it was special.
"It's pretty high up there," Colvin said. "To be a part of a winning ballclub and get the hits I did right there and help Timmy out -- he pitched a great game -- I feel pretty good about it."
The home run may stand out in Colvin's memories, but he wasn't done providing offensive fireworks.
Colvin then highlighted a three-run seventh inning as he turned an 0-2 pitch into a two-run triple down the right-field line.
The triple gave the Giants a 3-1 lead and ultimately proved to be the difference in the game, but when Colvin came to the plate, he wasn't even sure if he was going to get the chance to swing away.
"Two strikes, that's a great piece of hitting there," Bochy said.
Javier Lopez surrendered Freddie Freeman's solo homer in the ninth before Sergio Romo secured his 13th save of the season.