Lincecum the closer? It's nothing new to Kontos


Lincecum the closer? It's nothing new to Kontos

CINCINNATI The baseball world understood the impact Tim Lincecumcould make out of the bullpen in the Giants Game 4 victory Wednesday night.

But for one of his teammates, it was nothing he hadnt seenbefore.

This isnt the first time Ive played with Timmy as areliever, said right-hander George Kontos, who left two baserunners in thefourth inning that Lincecum cleaned up on the way to 4 13 brilliant innings inthe Giants 8-3 victory.

RELATED: Baggs' Instant Replay: Two down, one to go

Kontos and Lincecum were teammates with Harwich in the CapeCod League. Lincecum was a junior at the University of Washington trying hishand as a closer, mostly for the benefit of scouts. Kontos was at Northwestern,building up innings as a starter.

Ive seen how dominant he was, Kontos said. He was nasty.Throwing triple digits, punching people out.

I was a starter and I was third in the league instrikeouts. And he finished fourth, one behind me, as a reliever. It tells youwhat kind of stuff he had.

Lincecum went back to starting at Washington on his way to aGolden Spikes Award and the 10th overall pick in the draft. TheGiants had an eye toward making Lincecum a potentially dominant short relieverif he didnt prove durable enough as a starting pitcher.

Its still an option that could be entertained down the line.More than one scout has mused of a day when Lincecum takes the career path of aDennis Eckersley or John Smoltz.

Thats not likely to happen next season; Lincecum has onemore year left on his contract before hed be eligible for free agency, and startingpitchers command far more money on the open market.

But his ability to get loose in a hurry and rebound from oneday to the next is legendary. Even Kontos had to marvel when Lincecum threwjust two warmup pitches in front of the rubber, no less before enteringSundays game.

I think I get loose pretty quickly, Kontos said. I hadfour pitches in Houston, but I think he beat me the other day at home.

If the Giants advance to the NLCS, Lincecum is likely headedback to a starting role. Giants manager Bruce Bochy emphatically agreed thatthought will be entertained, if the club finds itself moving on to face the St.Louis Cardinals or Washington Nationals.

But for now, Kontos has enjoyed sitting in the bullpen andreconnecting with his old teammate from the Cape.

Hes the same guy. Hes Timmy, Kontos said. Whether itssomething in the stands were talking about or a song over the loudspeakers andhes singing the lyrics, hes the same fun loving guy.

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale


SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P