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For now, Lincecum set as Game 4 NLCS starter
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tim Lincecum is set to start Game 4 of the NL championship series for the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, as long as he’s not needed in relief for Monday night’s Game 2.

Manager Bruce Bochy said before the game that Lincecum told him he felt fine to pitch again Monday after throwing two hitless innings in Sunday night’s 6-4 Game 1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. But Bochy would prefer to stay away from him considering the struggles of lefty starters Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito this postseason — as one of them would be needed for Game 5.

Bochy called it a “good possibility” Lincecum would get the ball for a start at Busch Stadium.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner has pitched in relief three times this postseason. He was demoted to the bullpen after posting a 10-15 record and NL-worst 5.18 ERA in the regular season, but has found his stride so far in the playoffs.

“If he starts, I’ll be eager to see him the way he’s throwing the ball,” Bochy said. “We’ll see how today’s game goes. We’d like to have that option and have him for Game 4.”

Lincecum pitched the 2010 Game 5 World Series clincher for the Giants at Texas as the franchise captured its first championship since moving West in 1958.

He has allowed one run and three hits in 8 1-3 innings this October, striking out nine and walking just one. After pitching two strong innings in San Francisco’s Game 1 loss, Lincecum said his bullpen stint has helped his confidence.

“I just try to go in there and get outs when I’m asked to,” he said. “That’s pretty much my mindset.”

With Bumgarner struggling in his first two starts this postseason — both at home where he has been so good — and Zito failing to make it out of the third inning in his one playoff start at Cincinnati, Bochy had little choice but to put Lincecum back in the rotation.

“I just want to help the team win,” Lincecum said.