PITTSBURGH (AP) — Tim Lincecum wants to avoid saying he’s hit rock bottom, but he sure hopes his nightmarish season doesn’t fall any lower.
Lincecum failed to get out of the fourth inning for the second consecutive start, allowing six runs on seven hits in the San Francisco Giants’ 13-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon.
A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum enters the All-star break with a 6.42 ERA that is worst in the majors among qualifying starters.
“You never want to say, ‘Hey, I’ve hit rock bottom,’ or anything like that,” Lincecum said. “But when things are going as bad as they are right now, you’ve kind of got to go out there like you’ve got nothing left to lose. Leave it all out there on the field and what happens, happens.”
Manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum will start San Francisco’s second game out of the break. He also was emphatic that he has given no thought to removing Lincecum from the rotation.
“He’s got to put this first half behind him...” Bochy said. “He’s got to regroup. We need him. He’s got to be determined to turn things around, and have a better second half.
“There’s not much you can do right now.”
Pablo Sandoval provided San Francisco’s only highlight Sunday, hitting a two-run homer. The Giants have lost five of six and seven of nine.
Lincecum allowed one of Andrew McCutchen’s two home runs and two of Neil Walker’s five hits, including Walker’s solo homer in the third. The Pirates chased Lincecum (3-10) with a three-run fourth that included pitcher A.J. Burnett’s RBI single.
“It starts with fastball location, and everything kind of works off there,” Lincecum said. “I feel like my fastball location hasn’t been there the last couple games, so I kind of am going to my secondary pitches and guys can sit on those when they see me doing that. They made the adjustment, and now I’ve just got to make the adjustment back.”
Lincecum has allowed 69 earned runs — most in the majors and three more than his total from all of last season. He has allowed 47 earned runs in 47 innings on the road this season.
Lincecum said he is healthy and has no physical issues.
“One-through-five we’re pretty good as far as a starting staff goes. I don’t want to be that weak link,” he said.
“It’s a terrible feeling feeling like you’re letting your team down, and I think that’s the hardest thing, because it seems like everyone else seems to be doing their job and playing good ball,” Lincecum added. “So when you’re the weaker link you kind of look at that and it wears on you, so you try your hardest to work out of it and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Lincecum can take solace in knowing he isn’t the only NL pitcher having trouble getting McCutchen out these days. McCutchen enters the break on a 21-for-38 (.552) tear. He has multiple hits in six of his past nine games and 23 RBIs in his past 19 games.
McCutchen hit a pair of two-run homers that immediately followed hits by Walker — one to open the scoring in the first and another to make it 12-2 in the seventh. All of his team-high 18 home runs have come in the past two months — an NL-high 12 have come with runners on base.
“I am not going up to bat to hit home runs,” McCutchen said. “I am just trying to put good swings on balls and when I do that, depending on where the pitch is and how my swing is, some balls go out.”
The long-woeful Pirates have won six of seven and 10 of 12, and no team in the majors has a better record since May 12 than Pittsburgh’s 34-19.
“We worked hard to get to where we are, and we’ve earned our way so far,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
Burnett was charged with two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings to win his ninth consecutive decision. Casey McGehee went 3 for 4 with two RBIs for Pittsburgh before pulling up lame with a mild left groin strain after swatting a two-run “single” deep into the notch in left-center during the sixth.
The Pirates (48-37) are 11 games over .500 for the first time since 1992 and are in first place at the break for the first time since 1997. The franchise has endured a North American professional sports record 19 consecutive losing seasons.
The Pirates have gone 11-1-1 in their past 13 series and have won seven consecutive series at PNC Park.
Burnett (10-2) retired 13 consecutive Giants batters from the first until the sixth. He was lifted after Sandoval hit his eighth homer with Buster Posey aboard in the seventh.
Burnett improved to 6-0 at home and became the second Pirates pitcher since 1993 to win 10 games prior to the All-star break. Pittsburgh has won each of his past 12 outings.
Walker extended his hitting streak to 12 games, tying a team season high. It was the first five-hit game for a Pirates player since Walker did it July 20, 2010.
Walker is hitting .489 (23-for-47) during his streak.
“Days like today can happen,” said Walker, “but certainly five hits is something that comes around very rarely.”
Pittsburgh entered the day a game up on the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central. Only Washington has a better record among NL teams.
Notes: The Giants had three errors. ... The Pirates’ 29-14 home record is the best in the majors. They have won nine of 11 and 14 of 17 at PNC Park. ... San Francisco hosts Houston for a three-game series coming out of the break beginning Friday. The Giants took two of three from the Astros at home June 12-14.