Molina's bat helps Giants take down Cubs
Tim Lincecum usually doesn't need much help to succeed, and the 2008 NL Cy Young winner got a double bonus Tuesday.
His offense-challenged San Francisco Giants put three runs on the board for him before he threw his first pitch, and Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella used a lineup with hardly any proven big league hitters.
"It makes life easier," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Bengie Molina's three-run homer in a 6-2 victory over the Cubs. "We've been looking for a big hit and Bengie jump-started us there."
The Giants had been averaging only 3.5 runs, worst in the majors, and had failed to score a single run for their last three starting pitchers.
Molina's shot off Sean Marshall (0-2) instantly provided Lincecum (3-1) with his magic number. The hard-throwing right-hander is 23-1 lifetime when receiving at least three runs of support.
"I was able to keep them off-balance with the changeup and curveball, kind of pitching backward from what I usually do," said Lincecum, who allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings, with seven strikeouts and two walks. "I was just trying to mix it up and keep them swinging."
Rather than facing the Chicago team that had won its previous four games, Lincecum got to go against a lineup that included six players who were in the minors as recently as 2007.
"We're in a stretch of 20 straight games without a day off," Piniella said. "You've got to rest people."
Those he rested for the day game after a night game included his best hitter as of late, Ryan Theriot, All-Stars Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, $30 million newcomer Milton Bradley and '08 NL Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto.
Among those starting for the Cubs was Bobby Scales, a 31-year-old infielder making his big league debut after spending 11 years in the minors.
Scales, who supplements his income by working as a substitute teacher during the offseason, singled in the fifth inning and later scored on Marshall's single to cut San Francisco's lead to 3-2.
"I don't know how long I'm going to be here, so go ahead and get one mark on the board," said Scales, who went 1-for-4, made a diving play at second base and ended the game by striking out.
"I knew for a fact that I could play here. That never wavered. Whether you get opportunities or not, that's not up to me. No matter what happens the rest of the way, they can't take it from me. I got it. I earned it. And I'm just fortunate to have it."
The Giants broke open the game with a three-run eighth that featured Aaron Rowand's two-run double off reliever Jeff Samardzija.
"That's what we've been missing - that timely hit, especially a double or home run," Bochy said. "We got two of them today against a good ballclub."
Like most San Francisco hitters lately, Molina and Rowand had been struggling. Molina was in a 4-for-23 slump and Rowand had gone hitless in his previous 20 at-bats.
The Giants rested infielder Pablo Sandoval, who was batting .387 in his previous 16 games. Sandoval, who has a slight groin injury, pinch-hit in the eighth and grounded into a double play. ... The Giants are 11-0 when they score first in a game, 2-12 when they don't. ... Cubs OF Kosuke Fukudome went 0-for-13 on the homestand. ... Cubs 1B Derrek Lee is batting .278 at home and .108 on the road.