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July 23, 2013
Lincecum roughed up but says no after-effects from no-hitter

SAN FRANCISCO -- Asked after Monday night's game if the Giants will need to make a move to bring in a reliever ahead of Tuesday's doubleheader, manager Bruce Bochy said he though the Giants' bullpen "actually came out of it pretty good" thanks in large part to George Kontos and his career-high 63 pitches.

And that was pretty much the extent of the positives the Giants could take out of their 11-0 loss to the Reds. Tim Lincecum, nine days after achieving no-hit immortality, turned in his shortest outing of the season while allowing a career-high eight earned runs. Bronson Arroyo held the Giants to seven singles in a complete-game shutout. And the Giants lost a game in the standings on the new leader in the N.L. West -- the red-hot Dodgers, who pounded the Blue Jays 14-5 and now lead Arizona by a half-game in the division.

Lincecum's outing is the focus of tomorrow's game story, but to start there, he couldn't recover from a 31-pitch first inning in which he was one strike away from getting out of it unscored upon before ultimately allowing a bases-loaded double to Todd Frazier. The inning built after the Giants couldn't get an out on Derrick Robinson's bunt following a leadoff double by Shin-Soo Choo.

Lincecum struck out Joey Votto and made an athletic play on a Brandon Phillips ground ball to tag out Choo in a rundown. But he walked Jay Bruce after getting ahead of Bruce in the count and then left a 1-0 fastball up to Frazier, who crushed it over Andres Torres' head in center field.

Bochy said he thought the inning caught up with Lincecum as the Reds scored five more runs off him in the next three innings, including three solo homers. "He had great stuff and was close to getting out of that," Bochy said. "I do think the first inning took a toll on him. You're so close to getting out of it, I'm sure that was deflating for him."

Lincecum agreed the first was deflating, but said it didn't have a physical toll on him in the later innings. "After that you've just got to settle down and make better pitches. I left a lot of pitches up in the zone and they continued to tally up runs."

Nor did Lincecum place blame on the extra time between starts due to the All-Star Break -- or residual effects from the 148 pitches he threw in no-hitting the Padres on July 13.

Bochy reiterated Monday that the Giants "let (Lincecum) go" in San Diego because of the circumstances: "So it's hard to measure whether it was that, whether it was nine days since he's pitched, the Reds' hitters."

But asked if he thought his pitch count against the Padres had carried over, Lincecum said: "No. I mean, I felt just as normal out there as I have in recent starts. There was no toll."

Lincecum said the problems Monday started with fastball command, a nagging issue in his bad starts, which made his secondary pitches less effective. Along with Frazier on the double, Devin Mesoraco and Choo hit fastballs for solo homers, and Jay Bruce crushed a changeup that Lincecum "floated" for a solo shot in the third that put the Reds up 6-0.

Lincecum closed the first half on a pretty good string of starts -- he had a 3.16 ERA in his final eight outings -- and said he'd try not to let Monday's game overshadow that.

"I think I've got to go out with confidence still," he said. "This was just a little bump. I need to continue to use (the no-hitter) as a springboard, not just that game, but the games prior to that."

* Kontos' final line wasn't pretty -- 3 1/3 innings, seven hits, three runs -- but he earned MVP honors for the night. The innings and pitches (63) were the most he's thrown in a major-league outing, and it allowed Bochy to save his late-game relievers for tomorrow's doubleheader. Jake Dunning and Jean Machi each threw an inning to finish it.

"We got into uncharted territory there a little bit, but he felt fine," Bochy said. "We checked on him and he gave us what we needed."

Kontos' previous highs were 2 2/3 innings and 40 pitches. But he has started in the past -- though not regularly since 2009. Still, he said, "my body's used to doing the workload."

Certainly the Giants won't want to have to use Kontos again in the doubleheader, though the right-hander said he'll "normally bounce back pretty quickly.

"It's one of those things where if I'm going to get sore it'll be second-day soreness," he said. "It's kind of play it by ear. But as far as right now I expect to come in (tomorrow), get loose like I normally do and be mentally prepared to pitch again if needed."

Eric Surkamp can help out by going deep into his first big-league start since his Tommy John surgery last July in the first game Tuesday. The Giants will likely be more proactive going to the bullpen behind Surkamp if he does get into trouble, knowing he is coming back from injury.

* Without being asked about the offense, Bochy in his post-game press conference gave a somewhat exasperated: "We've still got to get these bats going. ... We need to find a way to get runs off of good pitching."

Arroyo has been tough on the Giants in recent years and didn't allow more than one runner in any one inning Monday except the seventh, when the Giants got back-to-back singles with no outs and couldn't score.

"He doesn't miss spots very much," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "There's really no method to what he does. It's just whatever pitch he wants in whatever count."

It's the second time in four games against the Reds this season the Giants have been shut out, the first being Homer Bailey's no-hitter on July 2. Overall, Cincinnati has outscored the Giants by a total of 25-3 in the season series. While the Reds knocked Lincecum out in the fourth inning, the Giants didn't force the Reds to use their bullpen at all.

"Honestly it's a little bit embarrassing," Belt said of the offense's struggles. "It's something we definitely want to change. We can stop it right now and go out and win a couple games and be right back in it."

* Jeff Francoeur nearly broke up the shutout in the ninth when he crushed a curveball from Arroyo to dead center field. But Robinson reached over the wall to bring it back -- then re-caught the ball after it popped out of his glove for the game's final out.

Francoeur's PG reaction to having a home run taken away from him: "That sucks."

"I crushed it," Francoeur said. "I think the fact that sucks is not the fact that he robbed me, but that he could've brought it back and at least dropped it.

"That's what type of night it was for the Giants tonight."

* One thing that didn't make it into the pre-game blog: Bochy was asked before the game for his reaction to the news of Ryan Braun being suspended for the rest of the season and the postseason for violations of baseball's drug program. Here was Bochy's answer:

"You know what, I've said this, I support MLB, we all do, and hey, I think they're doing a great job trying to clean up baseball," he said.

"I think it's important for the integrity of the game. I mean, with the kids that are coming up to play baseball, it's important to them, the fans and also the players who do it right."

* It's Surkamp vs. left-hander Tony Cingrani in the first game Tuesday, a 4:05 p.m. start, followed by Barry Zito vs. Greg Reynolds in the nightcap. The second game will start 30 minutes after the end of the first, and no earlier than 7:15 p.m., with the Giants wearing their road uniforms and the Reds batting last.

It won't, however, be a chance for Zito to get his first road win of the season -- per rules of baseball, the game counts as a home game for the Giants, who will finish the season with 82 of them. Oh well.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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