For every step forward Lincecum has taken, like his eight strikeouts Wednesday, there has been a step back -- like his four-run fourth inning in that same outing. He owns a 2-3 record, 5.89 ERA and 1.58 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched), but he's struck out 41 batters in 36 2/3 innings. He threw eight innings without an earned run April 28, then gave up seven in only 10 innings over his next two starts.
In other words, it's hard to predict what Lincecum will do Tuesday night against the Rockies, who will send Jeremy Guthrie to the mound for the first time since April 22.
"I thought he had great stuff," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum on Wednesday. "It was electric at times. He should be encouraged. We are. Unfortunately, that [fourth] inning counts."
"If you think negatively, you tend to go negatively," added Lincecum. "If I'm going to take any positives away, the four innings around [the fourth] inning were fine."
Lincecum could use some run support from the Giants' lineup as they take on Guthrie. The Rockies right-hander is itching to prove that he's fully healthy after suffering a right shoulder sprain as a result of a bicycle accident April 28. He threw four scoreless innings in a rehab start with Class A Modesto on Thursday.
"It was good," Guthrie said Friday. "The most important thing was to throw pitches in a game setting and feel confident. I was able to do that."
Guthrie was roughed up by the Giants in his only start against them this season, a 3 1/3-inning outing in which he allowed six runs on nine hits and two homers at Coors Field. Before the injury, Guthrie had posted a 2-1 record and 5.92 ERA in four starts.
Rockies: No timetable set for Chacin
Jhoulys Chacin (right shoulder inflammation) has not started a throwing program, manager Jim Tracy said, and there is no timetable for him to begin throwing again. For now, the right-hander is just working on building up strength.
"He'll remain on the program that he's on right now, and that's just some rest and strengthening exercises," Tracy said.
Jason Giambi, who suffered a foot injury Wednesday and didn't know before Monday's game whether he would be able to hit, entered in the ninth inning, drew a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Alex White.
Giants: Another setback for Sanchez
Bochy said Freddy Sanchez suffered a "minor setback" in his return from the disabled list, this time in the form of a sore lower back. The Giants second baseman is still looking to get back on the field after a dislocated right shoulder ended his 2011 season on June 10.
Sanchez had been working at third base in extended spring games to avoid double-play pivot throws at second base and potentially to fill an area of need with Pablo Sandoval out. Bochy did not say when Sanchez will be back on the field.
Sandoval (fractured left hamate bone) should be able to perform more baseball-related activities soon, as he was scheduled to have the stitches removed from his surgically repaired hand Monday. Sandoval's recovery time has been estimated at four to six weeks, and Bochy said it was "hard to say" whether the 2011 All-Star third baseman was recovering ahead of schedule.
The Giants played before their 100th straight sellout crowd at AT&T Park, dating back to 2010, on Monday night. Only the Phillies and Red Sox have longer active sellout streaks.
"It's off the charts, what the fans have done," Bochy said. "I know it. And believe me, the players know it."
Following Tuesday's game, these two clubs will not meet again until August. They will play 13 times over the final two months of the season.