Lincecum finally wins again for Giants
SAN FRANCISCO – Darren Ford arrived from Double-A in the second inning following a delayed flight and missed connection. Then, he got thrown right into a tie game and a pennant race in his major league debut.
Manager Bruce Bochy gambled with a speedy yet nervous rookie – and it paid off, for ace Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants.
Ford entered as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run from second base on a wild pitch and throwing error in the eighth inning, helping Lincecum end a career-worst five-start skid in a 2-1 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night.
“I knew it would be bang-bang,” Bochy said. “I’ll say this, the kid didn’t hesitate. He can fly. That’s a great call-up. He comes up and helps us win the game. He showed no fear up there.”
Ubaldo Jimenez (17-6) was denied in his fifth attempt at a franchise-record 18th win. He lost his third straight start and fourth consecutive decision dating to a win over San Francisco on Aug. 4.
He struck out 10 in eight innings, allowing only three hits.
“You want to talk about a hard-luck loser,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “The way he was throwing the ball tonight, it wouldn’t have taken too many (runs), I can promise you that.”
The Giants gained another game on the first-place Padres, pulling within three games in the NL West race after San Diego lost its seventh in a row.
“You never lose sight of winning your division,” Bochy said.
Ford, on second after Lincecum’s sacrifice bunt, broke for third when Jimenez’s pitch bounced in the dirt and off catcher Miguel Olivo’s shin guard. Olivo scrambled to his left and quickly retrieved the ball before firing past lunging third baseman Melvin Mora.
“I know what my role is, to go out there and try to steal a base and get in scoring position,” said Ford, who impressed Bochy way back in spring training. “I trust my instincts.”
Lincecum (12-9) won for the first time since July 30. He hung tough in an impressive pitchers’ duel between the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner and the guy who may unseat him for the honor this season.
“I had a different mentality,” Lincecum said. “This is a big moment and I’ve got to step up. I wanted to start off the month well.”
Ford came through hours after being called up from Double-A Richmond. Veterans Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell exchanged chest slaps, while Pablo Sandoval greeted Ford with a big hug in the dugout.
Lincecum allowed five hits, struck out nine and walked one in eight innings. All-Star closer Brian Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his NL-leading 38th save in 42 chances.
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez, facing the outfield, made an over-the-shoulder catch on Mora’s popup to end it. Sanchez laid flat on his back in relief as the crowd at AT&T Park roared.
Carlos Gonzalez homered to start the fourth for the Rockies, who did little else against Lincecum on a night the hard-throwing right-hander looked like his old self again. Gonzalez had three of Colorado’s five hits.
Winning this series for the Giants was huge considering they dropped the opener Monday on a bizarre broken-bat triple. San Francisco leaves town for a 10-game road trip all against the division.
Jimenez didn’t allow a hit until Jose Guillen singled to right leading off the fifth. Buster Posey walked and Sandoval struck out swinging before Mike Fontenot’s RBI single made it 1-all.
Jimenez has a 2.92 ERA over his last five starts.
“That’s part of life and that’s part of baseball,” Jimenez said. “Things one day are going to go your way and then the other time it’s going to be the other way. You never know when it’s going to change. The only thing I can do is just try to keep going hard and giving my team a chance.”
Lincecum of anybody understands a tough stretch. This outing, he pushed any thoughts of mechanics out of his mind and just pitched.
Lincecum went 1-3 last September and expects more from himself this time to keep his team in the playoff chase. They haven’t been to the postseason since 2003.
“This is going to be a big month for us,” Lincecum said. “I’m going to try to take that momentum into the next series.”
Colorado now heads home for a makeup game with the Phillies on Thursday before traveling to San Diego for a key weekend series.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki returned to the Rockies’ lineup after missing two games with a sore left groin. He went 0 for 4 and had his hitting streak snapped at 10 games.
NOTES: The Giants activated SS Edgar Renteria and LHP reliever Dan Runzler from the disabled list. Renteria wasn’t in the starting lineup after his third DL stint and manager Bruce Bochy said Juan Uribe would get most of the work at that spot the rest of the way.