Lincecum strikes out 10 as Giants beat Braves
SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum struck out 10 and overcame an early home run, Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run shot and the San Francisco Giants beat the Atlanta Braves 6-3 on Sunday night in a game that finally started after a rain delay of 4 hours, 9 minutes.
Cleanup hitter Aubrey Huff and No. 5 man Mark DeRosa, the Giants’ two biggest offensive additions this winter, and Bengie Molina all hit RBI singles. Huff also scored the go-ahead run in the sixth on rookie right fielder Jason Heyward’s misguided throw for his first career error.
Heyward hit a solo homer in the ninth.
Lincecum (2-0), the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, recorded his 20th career outing with 10 or more strikeouts. He struck out the side in order in the seventh to finish an impressive 108-pitch outing that was made more challenging by having to wait around for hours on the chilly, windy spring day in the Bay Area.
The clouds burst with rain again as soon as the game ended.
Jeremy Affeldt allowed Heyward’s third homer before earning his first save since Sept. 19, 2006, against San Francisco while with the Colorado Rockies. The left-hander tossed two innings.
Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami (0-1) retired the first 11 San Francisco batters before Sandoval’s two-out triple in the fourth.
Brian McCann hit a two-run homer in the first off Lincecum to put Atlanta ahead early.
Lincecum went all of last season without allowing a homer at home in AT&T Park, and this was his first in the waterfront ballpark since Colorado’s Seth Smith connected on Sept. 23, 2008.
Lincecum allowed five hits and two runs in seven innings, walking only one.
The two-time All-Star has often been clutch when he takes the mound after a loss, and he helped San Francisco bounce back from its first defeat of the season. The Giants lost 7-2 on Saturday night after winning their first four games.
Sandoval connected for his first homer of the year with an eighth-inning shot against the wind that sailed over the right-field arcade and onto the walkway on the other side.
A heavy rain began in the morning and didn’t let up until late afternoon, when a small window of good weather developed and the sides agreed to play despite a soggy outfield.
The tarp was removed to cheers nearly 3 hours after the scheduled first pitch of 1:05 p.m. local time.
McCann’s homer was his second of the season and he also added a sixth-inning single for the Braves, who were swept in a three-game series here last season.
They lost 5-4 in 13 innings in San Francisco’s home opener Friday before winning Saturday.
While a pregame ceremony had been planned for the reunion of the Giants’ 2000 NL West championship team, the players were long gone by the time the game began – some to catch flights home – so most fans never saw them.
Once the rain eventually stopped, Giants manager Bruce Bochy and athletic trainer Dave Groeschner took a walk to center field to assess the waterlogged conditions. Braves skipper Bobby Cox did the same several minutes later along with the umpires and Giants team president Larry Baer.
A potential makeup date of Aug. 26 was discussed, but that would have left Atlanta playing on 34 consecutive days between open dates on Aug. 12 and Sept. 16.
NOTES: Atlanta’s Chipper Jones, nursing a strained oblique from Thursday night, took grounders Saturday and had been scheduled to hit in the cage Sunday. He is day to day. “He’s doing good,” Cox said. … Fans stood up and hollered in delight when the sun made an appearance before the start of the bottom of the second. … A rainbow appeared beyond the right-field foul pole in the third. … Announced attendance was 38,062, though there were a lot of empty seats by the end of the night.
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