Lincecum lasted just 4 2-3 innings and gave up a season-high six earned runs in his latest setback, a 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday. The Giants' right-hander, who has only one win in his last six starts, allowed six hits and struck out five but walked five and hit a batter.
"He was out of sync tonight, there's no getting around that," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "We all go through it and he's going through a stretch here where he's struggling getting the ball where he wants. He's human. He's done an incredible job but as good as he is, he's going to have his stretches."
The right-hander, who was nearly flawless in April while winning his first four starts, struggled with his command for a third straight outing and allowed the Nationals to steal four bases while rolling to just their third win against the Giants in 15 games between the two teams.
It was his shortest outing of the season and the most earned runs Lincecum (5-1) has allowed since Sept. 23, 2008.
"It's completely frustrating," Lincecum said. "But at the same time I don't want to beat myself up over it. I have plenty of other outings to go through. Right now I just need to go back ... and figure out whatever the hell is going on."
There were reports earlier in the day that Lincecum has been pitching with a blister on his right hand but the two-time NL Cy Young winner downplayed the talk afterward, saying it had nothing to do with his performance.
The Nationals, held to two runs on Tuesday by Todd Wellemeyer, had no problems scoring against Lincecum.
Coming off his worst outing of the season when he gave up five earned runs before drawing a no-decision in an 8-7 loss to Arizona last week, Lincecum pitched out of jams in the first and second innings before the Nationals got to him for three runs in the third.