Rockies-Giants Preview

Instead of anticipating another tantalizing matchup between NL

West aces, Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Lincecum both enter their latest

duel desperate for a victory.

Recent results have been especially troubling for Lincecum, who

spent August losing a career-worst five consecutive starts for the

San Francisco Giants.

Jimenez, meanwhile, will take his fifth shot at a

franchise-record 18th win as the Colorado Rockies try to take the

three-game series at AT&T Park on Wednesday night.

Lincecum (11-9, 3.80 ERA) has won the last two NL Cy Young

Awards, and Jimenez (17-5, 2.71) has pitched like a contender for

that honor for much of this season.

Both right-handers, though, have been frustrated lately –

particularly Lincecum, who is eager to begin a new month after

going 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA in five August starts. He has already set

a career high in losses.

“I’m pretty ready for (September),” Lincecum said after Friday’s

6-0 loss to Arizona. “This has been one of those things you have to

take with a punch and just roll with it. It’s not fun to go

through. You have to fight through it. The last thing I want to do

is give up or give in to what’s going on now.”

Lincecum won’t be satisfied with another September like last

year, when he was 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA, his worst month in terms of

both record and ERA.

His Dominican counterpart hasn’t been pitching poorly, but

Jimenez is 0-3 in four outings – all quality starts – since

matching Colorado’s single-season record for wins Aug. 4 against

San Francisco. During that stretch, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia

has taken the major league lead in victories.

Minimal run support and bullpen problems have plagued Jimenez

lately. He led 1-0 entering the eighth inning Friday against the

Dodgers, but gave up three runs before departing Colorado’s 6-2

defeat.

“I don’t even think about No. 18,” Jimenez said. “I want to

find a way to keep the game close. I just want to win.”

Jimenez is 2-0 against the Giants this season, including a

four-hitter in a 4-0 road win over Lincecum on May 31, but he also

gave up a season-high seven runs to San Francisco on July 3, with

Travis Ishikawa’s grand slam providing the biggest blow.

Lincecum and Jimenez have often brought out the best in each

other. Each pitched seven shutout innings in a 1-0 Colorado win

June 11, 2008, and they traded low-scoring victories in a six-day

span in August 2009.

Each team hopes its ace can deliver a helpful victory in the

playoff chase.

The Giants (73-60) pulled within four games of NL West-leading

San Diego and remained 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the wild

card after Tuesday’s 5-2 victory, breaking a late tie when Andres

Torres’ home run sparked a three-run rally in the bottom of the

eighth.

“That was kind of a gut-check,” catcher Buster Posey said. “Guys

came back and fought hard. That’s what we’re going to have to

do.”

It has still been a somewhat disappointing nine-game homestand

for San Francisco, which is 4-4 entering Wednesday’s finale.

The Rockies (69-62), who won the series opener 2-1, have a

chance to win their first road series since June 28-30 at San

Diego. Since the All-Star break, they’ve gone 8-18 away from home,

losing six of their seven road series and splitting a four-game set

at Pittsburgh.

Colorado faces a tougher climb than does San Francisco in order

to reach the postseason, trailing the Padres by seven games and the

Phillies by 4 1/2.