EXTRA BAGGS: Lincecum offers a sugar high, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Lincecum offers a sugar high, etc.

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO When you absorb the worst postseason shutoutloss in franchise history, the feel-good moments usually end with thethundering flyover during the National Anthem.

Tim Lincecum provided one more turbo boost, such as it was.

Lincecum, the cause of so much consternation this season,made his third career relief appearance his second in a playoff game andtemporarily stoked a sellout crowd when he took the mound in the sixth inningSunday night.

Lincecum retired six of seven batters over two scorelessinnings, earning a standing ovation from fans who otherwise used their rallyrags to dab at their eyes in a 9-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy needed a couple clean innings tokeep a four-run game from splitting open. But maybe he also hoped Lincecumcould pep up the paying customers, and by extension, cause a stirring in some of hishitters.

Its hard to get the crowd into it when you dont getrunners on base, Bochy said.

The crowd down the left field line responded as soon asLincecum peeled off a gray sweatshirt and made his way to the bullpen mound tojoin lefty Jose Mijares in the bottom of the fifth. Lincecum only made two orthree warmup tosses as Brandon Belt broke up Bronson Arroyos perfect game witha single. Gregor Blanco grounded out to end the inning, and there was aconfused moment as Lincecum, already back in the dugout, was told to take themound.

RATTO: It's do or be done for Giants

The Giants called back Mijares, who had gotten as far as theinfield dirt.

We told both of them, Blanco, if he gets up, were going todouble switch, Bochy said. I think they were confused because the pitcherdidnt come up, but he said he was ready. He doesnt throw much anyway, Timmy,and he went out there and did a great job.

Lincecum threw 17 of his 25 pitches for strikes and left to a standing ovation, although it was a sugar high. The Giants didn't get a runner into scoring position until the eighth inning -- and that came, poetically, on defensive indifference.

The game exploded in the eighth, but Bochy didn't want to send Lincecum out there for a third inning. He said he took out his two-time Cy Young Award winner turned mop-up man to savehis pitch count, both to keep him a viable option to appear in relief again andalso to preserve him for a potential start.

All those options are open and I was glad to see him throwlike that, Bochy said. He was really good, I thought good with his commandand he kept the ball down and had all his pitches working.

Now we have the option, if he wants, or we want to use himin the pen in the first or second game in Cincinnati. Or start him if we havethat option.

Picking a Game 4 starter? Now thats a dilemma the Giantswould be thrilled to have.

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Some folks are bound to speculate that the Giants are gettingtheir tails kicked because they clinched too early. I dont buy that.

But I do think the Giants soft schedule in September isworking to their disadvantage, in a sense. They didnt have to face muchfirst-division pitching while feasting on the Rockies, Padres and the like.They didnt see many lineups that had the kind of talent and continuity thatthe Reds throw at you on a given night. And although the Giants have shown anability to rally, they havent had to do it against the team with the lowestbullpen ERA in the National League.

Bottom line time: the Giants starters arent pitching wellenough -- even in their shelteredcove. There is no more certain way to get bounced from a short series

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Wheels up in six hours for me, with a stop in Chicago andthen a 50-mile drive from Dayton to Cincinnati.

If this is the last game Ill cover at AT&T Park thisseason, its been entirely memorable. And for one night, perfect.

Giants use big fifth, sixth innings to take down Cubs

Giants use big fifth, sixth innings to take down Cubs

BOX SCORE

At Scottsdale, Arizona, Giants starter Matt Cain gave up two runs — one earned — and three hits over two innings.

New Giants closer Mark Melancon tossed a 1-2-3 third inning in his first outing. Cain threw 40 pitches and Justin Ruggiano had an RBI double in a three-run fifth.

Javier Baez went 2 for 3 with an RBI double.

Giants spring training Day 13: Cain goes two; Melancon has perfect debut

Giants spring training Day 13: Cain goes two; Melancon has perfect debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bruce Bochy planned to give most of his pitchers one-inning stints during the first weekend of spring ball, but Matt Cain stretched it out to 40 pitches on Saturday. 

“I’ve had enough days off the past couple of years,” Cain said, smiling.

In his first start of a crucial spring, Cain threw two innings. He was charged with three hits and two runs, just one of them earned. 

“He’s in a good place right now with his arm strength,” Bochy said. “His delivery is consistent. I’m glad he got a lot of work today, to be honest. It’s something he needs as much as anybody on this staff, is work. He’s going to get it.”

Ty Blach, Cain’s biggest competition for the fifth starter spot, gave up four hits and one earned in his two innings. Neither pitcher was hit particularly hard, and both suffered a bit from iffy defense in the early innings of an 8-6 win over the Cubs. 

The inning separating Cain and Blach was notable for other reasons. Mark Melancon made his Giants debut, getting two groundouts and a fly to right in a quick inning. Melancon received a nice ovation, and he noted the opponent — a Cubs team that helped guarantee the Giants would spend big on a closer — but he didn’t put any added importance on the outing. 

“It doesn’t matter what I do out there right now,” he said. 

Melancon’s new teammates might disagree. Spring or not, the Giants certainly enjoyed watching a closer breeze through his inning. Especially against the Cubs. 

“He’s a pro,” Bochy said. “He’s going to be out there working on stuff, his command and pitches. It was good for Buster (Posey) to catch him. It was a good day for him.”

NOTABLE: On his first swing of the spring, Posey threw his bat up against the visiting dugout. It can only go uphill from there … Bryan Morris had a scoreless debut, striking out one … Josh Osich ran into some trouble in the eighth and gave up a pair of runs, but Bochy appreciated the way he fought his way out of the frame … Former Giants prospect Chris Dominguez started for the Cubs at first base. He had a couple of hits ... If you're headed to Goodyear for tomorrow's game, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, Conor Gillaspie, Jimmy Rollins, Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, Gorkys Hernandez and Trevor Brown will start behind Matt Moore. Also, if you're headed to Goodyear, I'm sorry. 

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez is limited to DH duty for now because of a sore throwing shoulder. Nuñez said the tightness popped up after some work in the weight room, but he’s not concerned at all. He said he would have played third base if Saturday’s game was a regular season contest. The Giants expect him in the field sometime next week. 

Nuñez also said it took five weeks after the season ended for his hamstring to get back to 100 percent, so apparently that injury was much worse than it first looked. Nuñez was out on the field before every NLDS game, trying to get clearance to return. He never quite got there. 

Will Smith (elbow) is just a day or two from throwing off flat ground, Bochy said. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants had hoped to have Johnny Cueto in camp this weekend, but he remains in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. Cueto is waiting for a visa for his ill father, Domingo, who will travel to Scottsdale with Johnny. 

LIGHTER SIDE: Brandon Crawford spent a couple of minutes learning some of Jeff Samardzija’s mound moves. The impersonation is pretty solid.