Braves-Giants Preview

In each of the last two seasons, Tim Lincecum has led the NL in

strikeouts, been named an All-Star and won the Cy Young Award. One

thing the San Francisco Giants right-hander has never accomplished

is win his first two starts of a season.

Lincecum gets that chance Sunday at AT&T Park, where the

Giants will try to bounce back from their first loss of the season

and prevent the Atlanta Braves from winning their first series in

San Francisco since 2005.

While lasting just three innings in last season’s opening-day

start, Lincecum (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was brilliant Monday against

Houston, retiring 16 of the first 18 batters he faced while

striking out seven in seven scoreless innings. All four hits he

allowed in his 98-pitch outing were singles.

“Considering last year – I had that in the back of my mind, just

go more than three (innings),” Lincecum told the Giants’ official

Web site following the 5-2 victory.

Lincecum has gone at least five innings in each of his six

career starts against the Braves. But after winning his first five

starts in this matchup, Lincecum allowed four runs and seven hits

over five innings in a 4-2 loss in Atlanta on July 22.

After picking up last season’s Cy Young Award trophy on

Saturday, the 25-year-old right-hander looks to avoid a second

straight loss to the Braves, who won 7-2 on Saturday and handed the

Giants (4-1) their first loss of the season.

“Overall I thought we were off tonight,” manager Bruce Bochy

said after his team tied a San Francisco record with four wild

pitches. “It wasn’t a clean game for us. We’d been playing so well

and we just had an off night.”

After snapping a five-game slide in San Francisco, the Braves

(3-2) go for their first series win there since taking two of three

July 18-20, 2005.

Another big game from 20-year-old rookie Jason Heyward and

Martin Prado could help Atlanta accomplish that.

Hayward was 0 for 9 in his previous two games, including an

0-for-5 effort in Friday’s 5-4, 13-inning loss to the Giants, but

he walked twice and went 3 for 3 with a homer and two RBIs

Saturday.

Prado made his second straight start at third for the injured

Chipper Jones (strained right oblique), and posted his fifth

straight multihit game. Prado is batting a major league-best

.600.

Kenshin Kawakami makes his season debut for Atlanta in the

series finale. The 34-year-old right-hander went 7-12 with a 3.86

ERA in 32 games – 25 starts – last season, his first in the majors

after winning 112 games in 11 seasons in Japan.

Kawakami developed a blister on his right index finger at the

end of the Grapefruit League season, but with a sinker added to his

pitching repertoire, he feels confident heading into his second

major league season.

“The results are showing that I’m pitching good, so I think I’m

looking good heading into the season,” Kawakami told the Braves’

official Web site through his interpreter.

Kawakami is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts against San

Francisco.

Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria went 0 for 5 on Saturday, but is

still batting .524 – third in the majors.