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September 16, 2009

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Lincecum slows down Rockies

TIM Lincecum returned to the mound to help the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 9-1 on Monday and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Last year's National League Cy Young winner made his first appearance since missing a start through a back injury, and gave his team an emotional lift with seven innings pitched and 11 strikeouts for his 14th victory of the year.

In the opener of a crucial three-game series, the Giants (78-66) moved to within 3 1/2 games of the Rockies (82-63) for the NL wildcard berth.

"The way things were going with the (recent) skid, it didn't look like we'd ever come out of it," Lincecum told the San Francisco Chronicle. "But here we score that many runs against the Dodgers (on Sunday), and tonight too. It's never too late."

Elsewhere in the NL, it was: Reds 3, Astros 1; Cubs 2, Brewers 0; Cardinals 11, Marlins 6; Diamondbacks 4, Padres 2 (in 10 innings); and Dodgers 6, Pirates 2.

In the American League, it was: Rays 8, Orioles 4; Yankees 5, Angels 3; Tigers 6, Blue Jays 5 (in 10 innings); Athletics 9, Rangers 0; and Twins 6, Indians 3.

In San Francisco, outfielder Aaron Rowand put the home team on top with a two-run single in the second inning where the Giants scored three times before right-hander Lincecum put the squeeze on Colorado.

Lincecum surrendered a triple in the seventh to Carlos Gonzalez who scored on a wild pitch, but otherwise pitched out of trouble and showed no ill effects of his back ailment while firing 116 pitches.

Eugenio Velez hit a three-run triple in the eighth and San Francisco scored five times in the inning to break the game open.

Hitting cleanup

Bengie Molina had two hits and a solo home run in the third, his 18th of the year, after being dropped from hitting cleanup to No. 5 in the lineup.

"Going to the fifth spot doesn't make any difference," he said. "I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have done more than they've asked me too."

Colorado starter Jason Hammel allowed four runs in six innings pitched as he suffered his first loss since August 14 while the Rockies have now lost three straight after winning their previous eight.

In Baltimore, the Tampa Bay Rays ended their 11-game losing streak, using a 15-hit attack and an effective pitching performance by David Price to beat the Orioles 8-4.

The Rays avoided becoming the first World Series team in history to lose 12 in a row the following year. Rookie Reid Brignac had a career-high four hits - his first big league homer, two doubles and a single - and B J Upton also connected for Tampa Bay.

Held to eight runs in their previous seven games, the Rays equaled that amount by the fifth inning. Tampa Bay, .183 during its 11-game skid, hadn't had as many as 15 hits in a game since August 24 against Toronto.


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