DENVER | Tim Lincecum hasn’t changed a thing on the mound. His recent turnaround, he says, is the result of an old-fashioned gut-check.
Lincecum won consecutive starts for the first time since April, Hunter Pence had three RBIs and the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 8-3 Sunday for a three-game sweep.
“I just wanted to dig deep,” Lincecum said. “I knew this was a big game for us. We wanted to get this sweep. Obviously, we’re half a game ahead (in the NL West) right now and we want to keep putting the foot on the pedal.”
Lincecum (6-11) worked around five walks, allowing one run and five hits in six innings. After going 4-9 with a 5.26 ERA in 18 starts from the start of May through July 25, he is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last two outings against the Mets and Rockies.
“I think it’s just the competitiveness,” Lincecum said. “I don’t think anything is different. I’m not throwing any harder, obviously. I’m not throwing any different kind of pitches. I think it’s just the conviction on the pitches. Every pitch before you throw it is with a purpose.”
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner had not won consecutive starts since April 23 against the Mets and April 28 against the Padres. In Lincecum’s previous appearance at Coors Field, he gave up six runs in 2 1-3 innings on April 11.
He had a rough go of it in the first inning Sunday, when he faced seven batters, threw 36 pitches, issued two walks and gave up two hits, including Jordan Pacheco’s RBI single.
“This is one of his guttiest efforts,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “That first inning, he wasn’t too far from coming out. For him to regroup and give us six solid innings, that was pretty impressive.”
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Lincecum’s ability to work out of the first-inning jam was the defining moment of the game.
“We had Timmy on the ropes,” Tracy said. “We were one swing away from him being out of the game in the first inning, which leads to what took place over the course of the game. The big hit that would’ve changed their entire day from a pitching standpoint and could’ve changed our entire day, we weren’t able to get that.”
After losing seven of eight coming into the series, the Giants swept the Rockies for the first time since a four-game set last Sept. 15-18. They totaled 35 runs at Coors Field after scoring six in their prior three games.
Tyler Chatwood (1-2), recalled from Double-A Tulsa before the game to take the rotation spot of injured Christian Friedrich, allowed three runs — one earned — on two hits and four walks in 3 1-3 innings.
Pence, acquired Tuesday from Philadelphia, had a run-scoring groundout in the first. He hit an RBI double in the fifth for a 4-1 lead and had another run-scoring double in a three-run seventh that made it 7-1. He entered hitting .118 (2 for 17) with two RBIs in his four previous games with the Giants.
“It felt good to get some hits that counted and you feel like part of the team,” Pence said. “Whenever you can contribute, it’s very uplifting. We played good ball during this series, had a lot of fun. I’m getting to know everyone and just settling in. It feels really good and I’m really excited about this whole opportunity.”
Marco Scutaro capped the Giants’ seventh with a two-run double. Melky Cabrera tripled leading off the ninth and scored on a single by Buster Posey, who got a day off from catching but started at first base.
Colorado, swept twice during a 1-8 homestand, pulled to 7-2 in the seventh on Carlos Gonzalez’s RBI single. With the bases loaded and one out, Sergio Romo relieved Javier Lopez and struck out Matt McBride and Wilin Rosario to end the threat.
San Francisco scored its first three runs without a base hit. Angel Pagan drew a leadoff walk in the first and scored from third on Rosario’s passed ball. Ryan Theriot reached on Pacheco’s fielding error at third base and scored on Pence’s groundout.
NOTES: Pablo Sandoval, on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain, took grounders at third base before the game and Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sandoval is on course to be activated in about a week. … The Rockies placed LHP Jonathan Sanchez on the 15-day DL with biceps tendinitis. … Cabrera started an inning-ending double play in the fourth when he caught Dexter Fowler’s fly ball in left and threw out Rosario at the plate, with help from a block by catcher Hector Sanchez.