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LAD@SF: Lincecum fans eight over seven scoreless

Until his last couple of starts, Tim Lincecum, the Giants' two-time Cy Young Award winner, was struggling through the worst stretch of his career. But he might have taken a big step toward regaining his old form.

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann has pitched well all season, but only an impressive ERA indicates he has been better than what his win-loss record says.

The two talented right-handers appear poised to deliver a treat Tuesday for the fans who come out to Nationals Park for the first game of the teams' three-game series.

Lincecum, a four-time All-Star, has struggled through a miserable first half of the season, with a 3-8 record and 5.60 ERA in 17 starts.

But he has been better in his last two outings, resembling his old confident self.

He ended a stretch of 10 consecutive winless starts Wednesday against the Dodgers, when he allowed four hits in seven innings in a 3-0 Giants victory, recording his first victory since April 28. It was just his fourth quality start in 16 appearances.

Five days earlier he had allowed just three hits in six innings, but walked four and gave up three earned runs while striking out eight in a no-decision against the A's. Control problems have plagued Lincecum, with his season total of 47 walks the third-highest mark in the National League.

He walked just two in the win over the Dodgers.

The rebound, albeit brief, has invigorated Lincecum.

"I found myself, at exciting points in the game, feeling a little bit of emotion and getting excited myself," he said after beating the Dodgers.

Pitching with a sense of confidence is a big part of Lincecum's game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated.

"He carried himself with so much more confidence the last couple of outings," Bochy said. "The confidence factor is so important. He realized how good he is."

Zimmermann's win-loss record is a disappointing 4-6, but his 2.77 ERA was the 11th-best mark among starters in the National League before Sunday's games.

Like Lincecum, Zimmermann is coming off a strong performance in his last game, one in which the Nationals' offense made things easier for him in a 11-5 victory over the Rockies.

Zimmermann pitched seven innings and gave up eight hits and one run against the Rockies to win for the first time in over a month and was appreciative of the cushion the Nationals' hitters gave him.

"It was definitely nice getting that support," said Zimmermann, who hadn't allowed more than three runs in each of his last four starts entering the game, but still was winless since May 22. "It gave me some room to breathe."

Giants: Posey returns to form
Catcher Buster Posey has bounced back nicely from the devastating ankle injury that caused him to miss most of the 2011 season, and he was rewarded Sunday by being named the National League's starting catcher in the All-Star Game.

Posey is hitting .303 with a team-leading 10 home runs and 42 RBIs. He started the winning rally in the Giants' 4-3 victory over the Reds on Sunday with a two-out double in the ninth inning, scoring on a double by Angel Pagan.

He has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games.

• Center fielder Melky Cabrera, the second of three Giants to be voted into the NL starting lineup for the All-Star Game, was 2-for-3 with an RBI on Sunday to raise his batting average to .352.

• The third Giants All-Star starter, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, was 0-for-4, leaving his average at an even. 300.

Nationals: Zimmerman on a hot streak
Since third baseman Ryan Zimmerman received a cortisone shot before the Nationals' game on June 24, he has broken out of a prolonged slump and given indications that he is back to being the hitter the Nationals expected to bat third for them this season.

Zimmerman was hitting .218 before the game against the Orioles that day, but since then he is 14-for-37 (.378) with three home runs and 13 RBIs.

The hot streak continued in Sunday's 8-4 Nationals victory over the Braves, as Zimmerman went 3-for-5 with a home run, a double and four RBIs to lift his season average to .241.

• Zimmermann's ERA is lower than teammates Stephen Strasburg (2.81) and Gio Gonzalez (3.01), who were named to the NL All-Star team Sunday.

Worth noting
• There are only four players from the Giants' 2002 National League pennant-winning team still playing in the big leagues: Livan Hernandez (Milwaukee), Joe Nathan (Texas), Cody Ransom (Milwaukee) and Yorvit Torrealba (Texas).

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