SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tim Lincecum regularly finds ways to keep the Atlanta Braves off-balance.
On Monday night, he worked quickly through the Atlanta order on the way to his best outing of the year, striking out 11 in the Braves’ 4-2 loss to the Giants. They have dropped four in a row to the Giants and eight of 10 dating to last season.
Lincecum (3-2) left to a roaring standing ovation after pitching a season-high 7 2-3 innings in his first start of eight getting past the sixth.
“He threw a lot of off-speed pitches and kept them down,” Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman said. “He seems to do very well against us. He kept us off-balance.”
Gavin Floyd (0-1) remained winless after his second start of 2014, yet he is encouraged with the progress.
Floyd struck out eight over 6 1-3 innings in his first outing facing the Giants since 2008. The right-hander was 2-0 against San Francisco and won in his only previous appearance at AT&T Park while with the White Sox.
“Their pitcher was putting up zeroes so I knew I had to keep executing and keep us in the game. Things didn’t go our way in the seventh inning,” Floyd said. “I feel like I’m building off of each time I got out there.”
Tyler Colvin backed Lincecum with a home run and go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh inning.
B.J. Upton hit a tying solo homer in the fifth, then was caught stealing on replay review as the potential go-ahead run in the top of the seventh.
Upton hit a one-out double and was ruled to have stolen third on a slide below a reaching Pablo Sandoval. Giants manager Bruce Bochy challenged the call by third base umpire Dana DeMuth, and it was overturned in 2 minutes, 7 seconds.
Bochy said he had “nothing to lose” at that stage of the game. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said afterward they got the call right, but it was a “game changer.”
“I still thought I was safe,” Upton said. “I don’t know what evidence they had to overturn it.”
San Francisco, coming off a 7-3 road trip to Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, won for the sixth time in seven home games. Atlanta had won three in a row.
Lincecum struck out 10 or more for the 36th time in his career and first since last July 28 against the Cubs. He retired Chris Johnson on a swinging strikeout to end the sixth with runners on first and second.
“It was a very good performance. He just gave up a couple of hits when he was ahead in the count. Other than that, we didn’t get very good at-bats off Lincecum,” Gonzalez said. “He had all his pitches going and kept us off balance. This guy has an arsenal: the fastball, a cutter, a split. We couldn’t figure out what pitches he was going to throw.”
Promoted from Triple-A on Saturday, Colvin splashed a solo homer into McCovey Cove beyond the right-field arcade in the second – the 65th Giants homer to reach the water. Brandon Crawford had the other this season, on April 13 against Colorado.
Javier Lopez surrendered Freeman’s ninth-inning splash homer, then Sergio Romo finished for his 13th save. It marked the first game with two splash homers since Barry Bonds did it by himself on May 18, 2002.
NOTES: Freeman’s splash homer marked the first by a Braves player since Brian McCann hit one into the water on May 10, 2013, off Matt Cain. … The Braves don’t have to face former Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson this series, and that’s fine with Gonzalez. “It’s not all bad. I’d like to say hi to him and hug him,” Gonzalez said. … Atlanta LF Justin Upton returned after being held out Sunday. He bruised his lower back Saturday when hit by a pitch from Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija.