WITH ALL THE ups and downs in recent seasons, including his demotion to the bullpen for the playoffs, Tim Lincecum can appreciate the strong starts when most everything goes right - reminding himself, from his own experiences, how quickly things change.
Backed by solo home runs from Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt and Marco Scutaro, Lincecum looked in his best form in 2013 as the San Francisco Giants beat the visiting Atlanta Braves, 5-1, yesterday to wrap up an impressive homestand.
Lincecum (3-2) struck out seven in seven scoreless innings to end a three-start winless stretch. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner also stopped a four-start skid against Atlanta, beating the Braves for the first time since April 11, 2010.
"I'll take it," Lincecum said. "But I'm not jumping up in the air right now. . . . I'm happy about it, but it's still a work in progress. I'm still working to get better."
The Giants concluded a 7-3 homestand and won a home series against the NL East for the first time since April last year.
In other NL games
* At Los Angeles, Chris Capuano (1-2) pitched effectively into the seventh inning and Scott Van Slyke homered, leading the Dodgers to a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins.
* At St. Louis, Jorge De La Rosa held the Cardinals hitless into the seventh inning and Troy Tulowitzki's three-run homer ended Colorado's scoreless streak at 28 innings, sending the Rockies to an 8-2 victory. De La Rosa did not allow a hit until David Freese's two-out single in the seventh.
* At Washington, Alfonso Soriano scored the tiebreaking run in the ninth inning on a throwing error by catcher Kurt Suzuki, and the Chicago Cubs rallied to beat the Nationals, 2-1.
* At New York, Pedro Alvarez hit an RBI single against New York's overworked bullpen, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Mets, 3-2, taking the last three games in the four-game series.
* At Cincinnati, Don Lutz hit his first career home run, a three-run drive off the rightfield foul pole in the second inning that led the Reds over Milwaukee, 5-1, for a three-game sweep.
In AL games *
At Chicago, Chris Sale pitched a one-hitter after being perfect into the seventh inning, and the White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels, 3-0, to avoid a three-game sweep.
Mike Trout's sharp single to center broke up the perfect game with one out in the seventh, on Sale's 70th pitch. Sale (4-2) struck out seven on just 98 pitches for his first career shutout.
* At Seattle, Joe Saunders won his ninth straight decision at Safeco Field and Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer, leading the Mariners over the Oakland Athletics, 6-1. Saunders (3-4) is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in four home starts this year, improving to 9-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 13 career appearances at Safeco. He is 0-4 with a 12.54 ERA on the road this season.
* At Houston, Adrian Beltre's three-run homer was one of his four hits, and David Murphy and Leonys Martin also homered as the Texas Rangers completed a three-game sweep by romping past the Astros, 12-7.
At 10-28, the Astros are off to their worst 38-game start, according to STATS, breaking their 12-26 mark from 1967 and 1975.
* At Minneapolis, Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Steve Pearce homered and the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Minnesota Twins, 6-0. Wei-Yin Chen (3-3) pitched five strong innings before leaving with a strained right oblique, and the Orioles won for the sixth time in eight games.
In other news, Baltimore recalled lefty Mike Belfiore from Triple A Norfolk.
* At Kansas City, Robinson Cano finally hit a home run at Kauffman Stadium, Vernon Wells went deep for the second straight game and the New York Yankees beat the Royals, 4-2, to wrap up a three-game sweep.
* At Boston, Jose Bautista hit two of Toronto's five home runs, and the Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox, 12-4, to take two of three in the weekend series. The Blue Jays have won just seven of their last 20 and are last in the AL East at 15-24.
Boston's Shane Victorino crashed into the rightfield wall in the fourth while catching Colby Rasmus' drive and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. After being attended to by team personnel, Victorino remained in the game but left after the sixth inning.
* At Detroit, pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds hit a tiebreaking single in the 10th inning, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Tigers, 4-3.
In interleague play
* At St. Petersburg, Fla., Sean Rodriguez, Yunel Escobar and James Loney drove in late runs for the Tampa Bay Rays in a 4-2 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres.
* The Cardinals placed righthander Jake Westbrook on the 15-day disabled list with elbow inflammation and plan to select the contract of lefthander John Gast in time for tomorrow night's game against the New York Mets.
* The Colorado Rockies have placed outfielder Michael Cuddyer on the 15-day disabled list with a neck injury and recalled outfielder Charlie Blackmon from Triple A Colorado Springs.