SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tim Lincecum avoided the one bad inning that has buried so many of his starts this season. Instead, the lanky right-hander spread out his mistakes all over the place.
Indeed, the calendar is well into June and Lincecum and his funky delivery are still out of whack.
Lincecum extended his winless streak to eight straight starts in the San Francisco Giants’ 5-0 loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday, prolonging a baffling stretch for a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner considered among baseball’s best. That is, until this season.
The Giants are 2-11 in games Lincecum starts.
“I was just looking to come in and compete against a very good team, try to right what I’ve been doing wrong the last 10 starts,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t do that. Executing my pitches is the biggest problem. I had a good second inning and I wanted to carry that over but nothing was smooth.”
Not so much for the Rangers.
Alexi Ogando pitched three perfect innings before leaving with a strained groin after a bunt single, combining with three Texas relievers on a three-hitter. The Rangers also shut out San Francisco for the first time this season in a 5-0 win Friday.
“Seemed like everything we tried to do,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said, “worked for us.”
Robbie Ross (6-0) allowed only a double to pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff in the sixth while working four innings. Mike Adams gave up two hits in a scoreless eighth and Joe Nathan tossed a perfect ninth.
The AL West-leading Rangers tagged Lincecum (2-7) for all the runs and finished 4-6 on their road trip. Even still, the Bay Area finale left its mark.
Ogando, who made his first start of the season filling in for the injured Derek Holland, could be the latest Texas starter headed for the disabled list.
Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler each drove in two runs to chase Lincecum after 5 2-3 innings in the fifth straight loss for San Francisco’s shaggy-haired ace. He allowed nine hits, struck out five and walked four.
“It was a game similar to previous games,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He had his ups and downs. He was a batter away from a quality start. He was very good at times and then he had his hiccups. I keep saying he’s close and I still believe that.”
Lincecum has been erratic all season.
Sunday was no different.
Lincecum labored through a 30-pitch first inning — walking three straight with two outs — before striking out the side in the second on a rare warm, windless day at San Francisco’s waterfront ballpark. In the third, Elvis Andrus tripled and scored on Adrian Beltre’s two-out double to give Texas a 1-0 lead.
Everything really unraveled for the Giants in the fourth.
Three straight singles by the Rangers loaded the bases, the last coming on a bunt by Ogando that trickled between Lincecum and third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Ogando limped off the field after the play, leaving with the right groin strain after throwing 39 pitches.
Kinsler hit a two-run double to left to put the Rangers ahead 3-0. While Lincecum got Beltre to pop out to right with the bases loaded, he never settled into a rhythm.
Hamilton hit another two-run double in the sixth to extend Texas’ lead to 5-0 and send Lincecum into another four days of misery. Lincecum, who pitched the Game 5 World Series clincher for the Giants at Texas in 2010 and also helped beat the Rangers earlier in that series, has a 6.00 ERA this season.
“I’m not trying to make drastic changes,” Lincecum said. “I’m trying to grind it out and find a way out of this hole.”
This time, the stars on the mound belonged to the Rangers.
Not until Huff’s pinch-hit double off Ross with one out in the sixth did the Giants even get a hit. Gregor Blanco followed with a grounder to the pitcher, Huff was tagged out in a rundown heading for third, and Beltre’s throw nabbed Blanco leaning too far off first for a double play.
Angel Pagan and Nate Schierholtz singled off Adams in the eighth. Then Kinsler snagged a grounder by Brandon Crawford at second, and flipped it back-handed to Andrus out of his glove to start another dramatic double play.
The biggest relief for Texas still came on the mound.
Washington was only hoping for about 60 pitches from Ogando, who took the turn in the rotation for Holland after the left-hander landed on the disabled list Thursday with a fatigued throwing shoulder. He also had a stomach virus that caused him to lose about 15 pounds.
Ogando, who has made 27 relief appearances this season, was in line to make at least one more start. He will head back to the bullpen when Holland and Roy Oswalt — who is scheduled to throw about 80 pitches for Double-A Frisco on Tuesday — are healthy enough to rejoin the rotation.
The bullpen bonanza came two days after six Seattle relievers combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers.
NOTES: Giants LF Melky Cabrera missed his third straight game with a strained right hamstring. He took batting practice before the game and manager Bruce Bochy remains hopeful Cabrera will return for Tuesday’s home game against Houston. ... Washington rested Nelson Cruz and Michael Young.