Tim Lincecum got a little rattled, leading to yet another very bad night against the Reds.
Devin Mesoraco hit a two-run homer off the right-hander and Jay Bruce emerged from a slump by driving in a pair of runs Tuesday night, leading Cincinnati to its season-high fourth win in a row, an 8-3 victory over the sloppy San Francisco Giants.
Mesoraco hit his ninth homer off Lincecum (4-5), who has beaten the Reds during the playoffs but never during the regular season. Bruce, who spent time on the disabled list following surgery for torn cartilage, knocked in his first run since April 25.
The Giants have the majors’ best record at 37-21, but were undone by a season-high four errors. Lincecum had a throwing error, and catcher Hector Sanchez threw two balls into center field on steal attempts.
“We were off tonight between our pitching and defense,” Bruce Bochy said. “It was an off-night all around.”
Homer Bailey (6-3) went six innings in his first game against the Giants since his no-hitter against them last July 2 at Great American Ball Park. The right-hander gave up three runs and five hits, including Hunter Pence’s homer, double and single.
The Reds have dominated the Giants during the regular season in recent years, winning nine of 11 since 2012. San Francisco got the best of Cincinnati when it mattered most, taking three of five in the 2012 division series and going on to win the World Series.
Cincinnati won this one with a pair of big innings. The Reds scored four times in both the first and fifth innings, matching the most runs the Giants have allowed in an inning this season.
When Bailey threw his second no-hitter against the Giants last July, the opposing pitcher was Lincecum, who threw his own no-hitter 11 days later at San Diego.
Lincecum had a rough time in the rematch, matching his career high by giving up eight runs in only 4 1-3 innings. Bruce doubled home a run in the first inning for his 500th career RBI, and Mesoraco homered for a 4-0 lead.
Lincecum had a chance to escape that inning after Billy Hamilton led off with a double. The right-hander caught him wandering too far off second and tried to make a pickoff throw, but the ball bounced into center field allowing Hamilton to score on the error.
Hamilton also singled to start a four-run fifth inning and stole a base.
“I didn’t do a good job focusing batter-to-batter,” Lincecum said. “Hamilton is a big part of their offense, and him getting on two times out of three against me kind of just flustered me a little bit. I let it get to me in those two big innings.”
Brandon Phillips doubled home two more runs in the fifth, and Bruce had an RBI single as the Reds pulled ahead 8-3. Bruce missed two weeks following and was only 4 for 30 in his previous eight games back.
Lincecum is 0-4 with a 9.79 ERA in six career starts against the Reds, the only NL team he hasn’t beaten during the regular season. He won Game 4 in Cincinnati during the 2012 division series.
It was the third time in his career that Lincecum gave up eight runs in a start. The previous time also was against Cincinnati last July 22. Something about the Reds brings out the worst in him.
“That’s hard to explain,” Bochy said. “I can’t tell you why. I know he doesn’t have a win here.”
NOTES: Ryan Vogelsong (3-2) starts the second game against LHP Tony Cingrani (2-5), who is 0-3 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts since returning from the disabled list. … The Giants have lost 11 of their last 12 regular-season games at Great American. … Pablo Sandoval went 0 for 3 with a sacrifice fly, ending his 12-game hitting streak. … Bruce is the fifth-youngest Reds player to have 500 RBIs, trailing Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson and Adam Dunn. … Joey Votto was cleared to hit and take infield practice with the team. If that goes well, he’ll start a minor league rehab assignment. Votto has been on the DL since May 21 with a strained muscle above his left knee.
Updated June 3, 2014