Giants, Padres locked up at top again
Tim Lincecum looked every bit a two-time Cy Young Award winner and had a two-run single as the San Francisco Giants roughed up San Diego ace Mat Latos to win 6-1 Sunday and cut the struggling Padres' lead to less than one percentage point atop the NL West.
The Giants won three of four games after having lost nine of their first 11 against the Padres this year. The teams will meet in a season-ending series at San Francisco Oct. 1-3. Overall, the Giants have won 10 of 14 while the Padres have lost 13 of 17.
San Diego (80-62) leads San Francisco (81-63) by .5634 to .5625. Colorado is just 1 1/2 games back after winning its 10th straight.
Rookie Buster Posey hit a two-run homer off Latos (14-6), who had his worst start since April 26. The Giants ended Latos' big league-record streak of 15 straight starts of five or more innings with two or fewer runs allowed.
Latos, who came in leading the majors with a 2.21 ERA, was gone after four innings. He allowed five runs and seven hits, struck out four and walked two. His ERA rose to 2.43. They were the most runs he'd allowed since tying his career-high by giving up seven runs in a 10-1 loss at Florida on April 26 while lasting just 2 2-3 innings, the shortest outing of his big league career.
The previous time he gave up three runs was in a 3-2 loss at Philadelphia on June 4.
Lincecum (14-9) has won three straight starts following a career-worst five-game losing streak. The two-time Cy Young Award winner held San Diego to one run and seven hits in seven innings and struck out nine to take over the NL lead with 208. He is the fourth pitcher in Giants history to have more than 200 strikeouts in three consecutive seasons. He led the NL in strikeouts the last two seasons.
Posey homered to right with two outs in the first and Aubrey Huff aboard on a single. Jose Guillen hit a sacrifice fly in the third and Lincecum hit a two-run single in the fourth that landed just inside the left-field line.
San Diego broke through against Lincecum in the fifth when Will Venable legged out a leadoff triple to right and scored on David Eckstein's two-out single to center.
The Giants added an unearned run in the eighth when center fielder Luis Durango dropped Pablo Sandoval's fly ball for an error, allowing pinch-runner Cody Ross to score. Juan Uribe followed with a single to center, and Durango threw out Sandoval at home. Sandoval bowled over Yorvit Torrealba, but the catcher held onto the ball.
With runners on first and third and two outs in the Padres' ninth, Giants manager Bruce Bochy brought in Brian Wilson in a non-save situation. Wilson struck out pinch-hitter Matt Stairs.
Sandoval, the Giants' third baseman, made a nice catch of Ryan Ludwick's liner to end the sixth.
NOTES: Giants OF Andres Torres had an appendectomy Sunday and is expected to be out for 10 to 14 days. Manager Bruce Bochy said Torres was to have a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure. ... The Padres activated INF Jerry Hairston Jr. from the 15-day disabled list. He'd been out since Aug. 28 because of a strained right elbow. He pinch-hit in the ninth. ... Padres OF Tony Gwynn Jr. is expected to be activated this week after recovering from surgery on his right wrist. His defense could come in handy at Coors Field during a three-game series against the Rockies that starts Monday night. ... Padres RHP Chris Young was encouraged by his third rehab start, in which he allowed three hits in 5 2-3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and one walk for Class A Lake Elsinore on Saturday night. Asked if he feels good enough to pitch in the bigs again this year, he said: ''Yes. No doubt about it.'' He made just one start before going on the DL on April 12 with a strained right shoulder. Manager Bud Black said the team will be cautious with Young.