SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Tim Lincecum labored through six innings to win for the second time in his past eight starts and Pablo Sandoval had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 20 games as the San Francisco Giants beat the New York Mets 3-1 Saturday night.
Nate Schierholtz and Aubrey Huff drove in runs in the first inning off Chris Capuano (8-8) to help assure that the World Series champion Giants would go into the All-Star break in sole possession of first place in the NL West for the first time since 2003. San Francisco has a two-game lead over Arizona with one game left before the break.
The win also assures that Lincecum (7-7) will head to the All-Star game without a losing record. Lincecum was selected to the NL team by manager Bruce Bochy in a move that appeared to be as much a reward for what he had done in the past as it was for how he pitched in the first half this season.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner was 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA in his past eight starts, but managed to limit the Mets to one run in six innings.
Lincecum retired the first two batters every inning, but failed to set the Mets down in order even once. He avoided damage after allowing one run in the first inning, but the extra work drove up his pitch count and he was pulled after six innings with 114 pitches. He allowed four hits and four walks, with six strikeouts.
The Mets lost for just the second time in seven games and failed in their second attempt to move a season-high four games over .500
New York's only run came when Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy hit consecutive doubles with two outs in the first. That snapped a streak of 16 straight scoreless innings for the Mets against Lincecum.
But San Francisco answered with two in the bottom half for the only first-inning runs Capuano has allowed in 17 starts this season. Capuano had been the only pitcher in the majors with at least five starts who had not allowed a first-inning run.
But after giving up a double to Sandoval and a walk to Pat Burrell to load the bases with one out, Capuano was unable to escape. Schierholtz hit a ball up the middle to shortstop Ruben Tejada, who tried to tag Burrell to start an inning-ending double play.
But Tejada missed the tag and his throw to first was late, allowing Miguel Tejada to score on the infield hit. San Francisco added a second run on Huff's groundout 2-1.
That was all the Giants could muster in six innings off Capuano, who allowed two runs, four hits and four walks to end a three-start winning streak.
Sandoval added an RBI groundout in the seventh off Bobby Parnell to make it 3-1.
NOTES: Capuano had allowed eight hits in the first inning before giving up three to the Giants. ... San Francisco LHP Jonathan Sanchez (left biceps tendinitis) threw a bullpen session before the game and will likely face hitters on the day off in San Diego next Wednesday before making a rehab start. ... Mets 3B David Wright (back) could start playing rehab games next week and would likely need 30 to 40 ABs in the minors before being ready to be activated.