The seas appeared calm and the skies were clear for Tim Lincecum after four innings Friday night.
Entering the game, Lincecum had allowed 12 runs in the first inning and 10 in the fourth. So his outlook brightened when he made it through his roughest channels having given up just a solo home run to Giancarlo Stanton.
But the Miami Marlins deep-sixed him, then they barely survived to beat the Giants 7-6 in South Florida.
Once again, Lincecum was unable to see through a full day’s labor without walking off the mound with his head bowed. The Marlins erased the Giants’ 3-1 lead as Lincecum retired just one of the first four batters he faced in the sixth inning. Then came the biggest letdown, when Chris Coghlan -- a .104 hitter -- cranked a three-run home run to cap a five-run inning.
The big inning sank Lincecum again. It was the seventh time he’s allowed three runs or more in a frame. The rest of the Giants rotation has only done it three times all season.
This one was the biggest. The five-run inning matched the largest of Lincecum’s career.
Despite an inspired comeback in the ninth, the Giants fell to 2-8 in Lincecum’s starts and the two-time Cy Young Award winner’s 6.41 ERA is as gaudy as the home run structure here. He’s thrown a quality outing just once in 10 starts.
Starting pitching report
For five innings, Lincecum showed enough stuff and gumption to create authentic hope. He responded to Stanton’s home run, which actually hit the LSD-trip structure in center field, by striking out Logan Morrison on three pitches.
Lincecum fought his way out of trouble in the fifth, too, after a pair of one-out walks. Even his luck on balls in play seemed to be changing. First baseman Aubrey Huff made a diving stop on pinch hitter Greg Dobbs’ bouncer, then dug it out of his glove in time to throw to Lincecum for the second out. In previous starts, a ball like that often deflected into center field. Lincecum got out of the inning when he struck out Jose Reyes on a 94 mph fastball – showing he still can hump up when he needs to make a pitch.
But perhaps that 23-pitch inning took something out of him.
Lincecum seldom appeared right in the sixth, which began when Omar Infante ripped a double that Melky Cabrera couldn’t cut off in left field. Lincecum won an eight-pitch battle with Hanley Ramirez when he froze him on a 3-2 slider, but he looked drained after that.
Stanton singled in Infante to make it a 3-2 Giants lead, then Morrison walked on a close pitch and Bryan Peterson singled.
Inexplicably, Marlins third base coach Joe Espada held the muscular Stanton, which helped the Giants in two ways. For the moment, it kept the tying run from scoring. And it avoided the potential of a Stanton-Buster Posey collision at the plate, the thought of which should make every Giants fan shudder.
Lincecum could not engineer an escape. John Buck’s sacrifice fly scored Stanton, and then Lincecum threw a hanging, 0-1 curveball that Coghlan yanked into the right field seats. It was the first home run of the year for Coghlan, who was 5-for-48 entering the at-bat.
Lincecum did not kick the dirt or scream. He held out his glove for another baseball, which he promptly handed over to manager Bruce Bochy.
His line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO, 2 HR, 97 pitches, 60 strikes.
Shane Loux allowed an unearned run thanks to his own throwing error, but otherwise the bullpen gave the Giants a chance to rally.
At the plate
The Giants did well to scratch three runs against Marlins ace Josh Johnson in five innings.
Angel Pagan singled and scored on Joaquin Arias’ double-play grounder in the second inning. Pagan’s two-out single scored Gregor Blanco in the third. And Melky Cabrera’s low liner snuck inside the pole for his third home run of the season in the fifth inning.
But the Giants minimized their chance in the second, partly because of bad luck but mostly because Aubrey Huff didn’t hustle. Huff, who ripped the ball in batting practice, hit a deep drive that missed going over the fence by a foot or two. Huff appeared to trot out of the box and then pulled into first base as Stanton missed while attempting a leaping catch.
Pagan managed to get to third base, but if Huff had kept running to second, Arias’ ground ball wouldn’t have resulted in two outs.
You might not be surprised to learn that Cabrera also tripled in the eighth, adding to his MLB-best 69 hits. He has 42 of them in May with five games to play and he’s nine short of the San Francisco-era record for hits in a month, which Randy Winn established with a 51-hit performance in September, 2005.
The Giants entered the ninth trailing 7-4 and chased closer Heath Bell after Arias doubled, Brandon Belt singled him in and Gregor Blanco followed with another double. Brandon Crawford completed a productive night by hitting a sacrifice fly off Steve Cishek.
With Belt on third base and two outs, the Marlins held a conference on the mound and then decided to pitch to Cabrera rather than put the go-ahead run on base. Cishek stole a first-pitch strike, ran the count full, then slipped in a gutsy slider that Cabrera watched to end the game.
The Giants added two more errors to their major league “leading” total of 49. Loux made an errant pickoff throw that set up the Marlins for an unearned run in the seventh inning.
Second baseman Ryan Theriot displayed skillet hands while trying to field Petersen’s slowly hit ball in the eighth.
The Marlins announced 27,123 paid. Thankfully, no small children reported seizures after the psychedelic, $2.1 million home run structure light up twice.
The Giants continue their four-game series at Marlins Park on Saturday. Left-hander Mark Buehrle (4-4. 3.36) takes on Madison Bumgarner (5-3, 2.85). Bumgarner, by the way, clanked a ball off the home run structure during batting practice.