WASHINGTON — A struggling Tim Lincecum started Saturday night for the San Francisco Giants against a Washington Nationals team that’s given him fits for the last several seasons.
He wasn’t around very long.
Jordan Zimmermann pitched eight strong innings, Asdrubal Cabrera homered and the Nationals kept up their dominance of the two-time Cy Young Award winner, beating the Giants 6-2 Saturday.
Lincecum (10-9) was seeking his 100th win in the majors, but turned in the second-shortest start of his career. He gave up six runs, four of them earned, on six hits and four walks in 2 2-3 innings.
“You can go out there and think yourself through an outing and not be successful just because you’re not allowing yourself to do it. Your brain’s kind of in the way,” he said, “and I feel like that’s where I’m at now. It’s a little bit (that) my head’s getting in the way of me.”
In his last seven starts against Washington, he’s 0-6 and has permitted 34 earned runs in 32 2-3 innings. Lincecum has failed to pitch at least five innings in four of his last six starts overall, going 1-3 with a 9.49 ERA.
He expressed confidence he can pitch his way out of his current woes.
“I’ve done it before,” Lincecum said. “It was a different time in my life, but I’m still tenacious and competitive enough to work through it and not let it get to me, or at least not get the best of me.”
Manager Bruce Bochy was asked about considering moving Lincecum to the bullpen.
“We’ll talk about it,” Bochy said. “He definitely had a tough go today. He was out of sync and his delivery, command, everything — he was just off.”
It was Lincecum’s shortest start since he allowed six earned runs and lasted just 2 1-3 innings against Colorado on April 11, 2012 in a 17-8 loss.
Jayson Werth added a pair of RBI singles and Span had a triple and single for the NL East-leading Nationals, one night after San Francisco ended their streak in a 10-3 win.
The Giants got off to a good start against Zimmermann (9-5), when Angel Pagan led off with a double and Hunter Pence followed with his 18th home run on a pitch well out of the strike zone.
“There’s only one guy in the game that’s going to hit that pitch and it’s him,” Zimmermann said. “I threw it right where I wanted, 0-2 and up by his shoulders. Beats me how he hit it that far.”
Zimmermann quickly recovered and allowed seven hits overall, striking out eight without a walk.
Pablo Sandoval had three hits for San Francisco, which had won six of eight.
Yusmeiro Petit replaced Lincecum and retired all 13 batters he faced. He hasn’t allowed a hit in his last 12 1-3 innings of relief.
The first three Nationals reached base in the first as Werth’s single scored Span, and a double-play grounder brought home the second Nationals run.
Aided by an error, Washington scored three in the second to make it 5-2.
Lincecum’s outing ended in the third when Cabrera homered and Zimmermann doubled.
Giants: Bochy said CF Pagan, who felt left calf tightness while running the bases Friday night, is fine. “He showed up, said he could barely feel it. Got some treatment, so he’s good to go.”
San Francisco RHP Ryan Vogelsong (7-9, 3.73) opposes Stephen Strasburg (10-10, 3.41) in Sunday’s series finale.
Zimmermann wasn’t the only one impressed with Pence’s home run. “Hunter hit a ball over his head out of the ballpark. I don’t know how you do that. It’s 95 (miles per hour) and at least at his eye level,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said.