SAN FRANCISCO - On May 6, 2007, Tim Lincecum made his major-league debut for the San Francisco Giants against the Phillies and walked five batters in a loss. He faced Cole Hamels that day at Citizens Bank Park. Hamels was in the midst of a 15-5 season and on the precipice of stardom.

Both pitchers were 23 years old in 2007. When the two meet again Wednesday at AT&T Park, Lincecum will take the mound as the two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner and one of the game's great pitchers.

Hamels, meanwhile, has a 13-15 record with a 4.72 ERA (including the postseason) since being named the 2008 World Series MVP. He is still searching for the right method on the mound after opposing hitters caught up to his trusty fastball-change-up combination.

No one has caught up to Lincecum yet. In 2010, he is 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA.

"I remember in his debut when he was trying to blow it by everybody," Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino said, "to facing him later that year to facing him now. It's like, 'This guy keeps pitching differently.' So you tip your hat to him. That's why the league hasn't caught up to him yet."

This season, Lincecum is throwing twice the number of sliders he threw in 2009, according to the Baseball Info Solutions Web site. He also is throwing slightly more change-ups, which means fewer fastballs - the pitch that got him to the majors and dropped jaws everywhere.

Effectively, he has stayed ahead of the learning curve.

When hitters solved Hamels, he turned to another pitch, a curveball that has been slow to develop. He added a cutter before spring training this season and has thrown it with relative success in 2010.

Still, he hasn't reached that "aha" moment on the mound. Yet Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he can only be encouraged when he sees flashes from Hamels like the recent 11-inning stretch of success he had against Florida and Arizona. That, of course, abruptly ended when he allowed four home runs in the span of two innings against the Diamondbacks.

"What I saw is he started rushing," Manuel said. "He became a max-effort pitcher, and that he's not. He started seeing he could throw hard. Maybe he felt like he had to throw hard. All of a sudden, it got up and he made some mistakes.

"When he keeps his cool and he's fluid and he's smooth and he's graceful, that's when he's really good. When I see that, I know it's still there. It's just a matter of consistently being with it."

Lincecum has shown more than flashes. He has pitched with the consistent domination once predicted of Hamels (2-2, 5.11 ERA this season). But everyone will face that period of adjustment, Manuel said.

Rotation set

Pitching coach Rich Dubee said the team would skip Nelson Figueroa's spot in the rotation with an off day Thursday. That means Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay, and Jamie Moyer will start this weekend's three-game set against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

Righthander Joe Blanton will pitch for double-A Reading on Wednesday and could be activated to start Monday against the Cardinals.

Phillies Notes:

Wednesday's Game

Phillies (Hamels, 2-2) at Giants (Lincecum, 4-0), 3:45 p.m. (CSN)