San Francisco won a series at home, gained a game on the Dodgers, and got a win for Tim Lincecum when he didn’t have his best stuff as they defeated the Phillies 5-2 on Sunday.
Lincecum looked anything but sharp, lacking control from the first batter of the game. Ben Revere singled to lead off the top of the first, but luckily for Lincecum, was thrown out by Andrew Susac trying to steal second. The Giants righty then walked Jimmy Rollins and got Chase Utley down 0-2 before allowing an RBI triple to the Phillies second baseman. Lincecum also walked Ryan Howard to put runners on the corners with one out, but got Marlon Byrd to pop out and Grady Sizemore to groundout, limiting the damage.
San Francisco took advantage of a Philadelphia mistake to take the lead in the bottom of the second. With one out, Michael Morse continued his hot homestand with a single and, two batters later, Andrew Susac hit one up the middle. Brandon Crawford followed it up with a two-out RBI single to right, which scored Morse. Byrd’s errant throw into third allowed Susac to come home as well and make it 2-1.
That lead didn’t last long, as Lincecum’s lack of control got the better of him once again in the top of the third. After two quick outs, he gave up a single to Byrd, a double to Sizemore, and a walk to Carlos Ruiz. With the bases loaded, he then walked Cody Asche to tie the game at two before striking out David Buchanan.
It was a stressful day on the mound for Lincecum (10-8), who lasted just five innings and surrendered five hits and four walks, but he limited the damaged to just two runs, and his offense fought back to get him a win.
“I just tried to do my best to grind it out. Things weren’t doing what I wanted them to earlier, and started to a little bit later, but by that time my pitch count got up. I just did my best to grind it out, to eek it out, and leave everything on the field. I didn’t have my best stuff, but I worked with what I had that day.”
Like Saturday, the bottom of the order for the Giants kept fighting. Back-to-back-to-back singles by Morse, Joe Panik, and Susac gave San Francisco a 3-2 lead. Morse added another single in the sixth, finishing the day 3-for-3 and the homestand 9-for-14 (.643). After struggling for much of June, July, and early August, Bruce Bochy thinks Morse is coming back around.
“He’s getting his timing back, his confidence, his swagger, all of those things. He’s a good hitter, and he’s been battling it. Like everybody, you get in a funk and you might start pressing or thinking too much, but he looks free and easy up there swinging the bat the way he can. And hopefully this continues, because he’s really done a great job of lifting this club and getting some big hits for us.”
So, what’s working well for Morse right now?
“I don’t know,” he laughs. “I’m just getting hits…I’m just trying not to do too much, trying to get my pitch to hit, and trying to put it in play.”
Buchanan (6-7) certainly out-pitched Lincecum, tossing 6 2/3 innings and giving up nine hits, three runs, two earned runs, one walk, and striking out four on 105 pitches (61 strikes), but he took the loss as the Giants bullpen dominated the Philadelphia line up. Javier Lopez, Jean Machi, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Casilla combined for four innings of relief, walking no one and striking out nine. Yes, nine. With two outs in the sixth, they struck out six Phillies in a row, all the while lowering their already-impressive ERA to 2.64 – third in the Majors.
The young Giants tacked some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Gregor Blanco double, Panik stretched a single into a double, and Susac worked a walk after being down 0-2. Sacrifice flies from Crawford and pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias made it 5-2.
After an abysmal showing at home over the last two months, San Francisco won two in a row at AT&T for the first time since June 7-8. It was also their first series win at home since before the All-Star break. With the Dodgers getting swept by the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, the Giants sit just 3.5 back in the West with 39 games left to play. But Morse says they’re not going to get ahead of themselves.
“We’re just trying to win the series, we’re not trying to do too much as a team in general. You get caught up with everything that’s going on, but I think the mentality that we have right now is: get on base, try to score as many runs as possible, and try to win the game and try to win the series. I think we’re going series to series.”
The team will have a off-day tomorrow as they travel to Chicago to begin a three-game set with the Cubs. Ryan Vogelsong (7-8, 3.71) will face Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1, 3.15) on Tuesday night. The Dodgers will head south to face the San Diego Padres.
Notes: Panik was removed in the top of the ninth on Sunday after dislocating his pinky while sliding into second in the bottom of the eighth. His finger had been reset, and he was getting x-rays. Bochy said that the Giants will not make a decision about the second base position until the results of the x-rays are in.