Braves-Giants Preview

Tim Lincecum has twice concluded May with an ERA under 3.00, and both times he also ended the season below that mark.

It’ll take quite a bit more work for that to happen this season, but if he’s able to finish his month there in Saturday night’s outing against the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco Giants starter should have a decent chance to claim two other feats. Lincecum has never won five straight home starts, and he’ll also have a shot at establishing his top home scoreless run ever.

"The evolution of the last few years has been pretty rocky, so I’m taking what I’ve got going right now as a definite plus," Lincecum told MLB’s official website after his last home start.

The right-hander’s April and May of the previous three seasons resulted in a 9-14 record and 5.04 ERA in 33 starts. Lincecum (5-2, 2.56 ERA) was 5-4 with a 2.22 ERA through May in 2011, which led to a 2.74 season mark. He also did it in 2008.

This season has been a return to that early season form, particularly at AT&T Park with a 4-1 record, a 1.13 ERA and a scoreless streak of 22 innings – the longest active home mark in the majors. His personal-best run went 27 innings from June 13-July 11 of last year.

He’s also gone 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in five starts this month and has a shot at going unbeaten in six straight starts for the first time since going 10 from Oct. 1, 2009-May 20, 2010.

However, he is coming off one of his worst starts of the season. Lincecum surrendered four runs – all on three homers – in Monday’s 8-4 win in Milwaukee but still came away with the decision.

He won both of his starts against Atlanta last season while allowing two runs in 13 2-3 innings to improve to 9-6 with a 2.76 ERA in 15 career matchups. Andrelton Simmons (1 for 9), Cameron Maybin (4 for 24), Eric Young Jr. (4 for 21), Chris Johnson (3 for 15) and Freddie Freeman (4 for 19) have all struggled against the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

After Friday’s 4-2 win secured at least a split in the series, the Giants (30-20) have won five straight with a 2.00 ERA while limiting opponents to a .180 average. Over a 13-2 run, they’ve averaged 6.27 runs and batted .306 to move back into first place.

Buster Posey was 2 for 4 with a home run, double and three RBIs. Brandon Crawford went 2 for 4 to boost his average to .393 over his last 14 games, and the career .248 hitter has a .342 average in 21 games against the Braves.

San Francisco has won 11 of 14 over Atlanta, including seven of eight at AT&T Park with the Braves averaging 2.13 runs and batting .172.

Atlanta (23-25) has dropped four of five to begin a 10-game road trip, and it’s been limited to 1.63 runs and a .188 average in the last eight games. A.J. Pierzynski was 0 for 3 Friday to dip to 1 for 21 in his last six.

Williams Perez will try to slow the Giants and earn his first big league win in his third start. Perez (0-0, 4.05) has been impressive in his first two starts with two runs allowed in 11 innings with 14 strikeouts. In Monday’s 6-3 loss at the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 24-year-old gave up a run and seven hits in six innings.

"He mixes his pitches really well," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He’s not afraid to throw his secondary stuff when he’s behind in the count. That takes a while for even the most veteran pitchers. So far, I’ve liked the way he’s pitched and progressed."