Giants' Tim Lincecum labors, but gets win vs. Mets

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum made sure he won't have to be asked about being an All-Star with a losing record.

Lincecum labored through six innings to win for the second time in his past eight starts and Pablo Sandoval had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 20 games as the San Francisco Giants beat the New York Mets 3-1 Saturday night.

The win sends Lincecum (7-7) to the All-Star Game with a .500 record instead of as the first starter with a losing mark since Gil Meche in 2007.

"Yeah but they're still going to ask me why I'm a 7-7 All-Star," Lincecum said. "Regardless they're going to be questions about that."

Lincecum was selected to the NL team by manager Bruce Bochy in a move that appeared to be as much a reward for what he had done in the past as it was for how he pitched in the first half this season.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner was 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA in his past eight starts, but managed to limit the Mets to one run in six innings.

Lincecum retired the first two batters every inning, but failed to set the Mets down in order even once. He avoided damage after allowing one run in the first inning, but the extra work drove up his pitch count and he was pulled after six innings with 114 pitches. He allowed four hits and four walks, with six strikeouts.

"Just getting through those innings was a battle for me," Lincecum said. "Just getting out of them was good enough for me."

Nate Schierholtz and Aubrey Huff drove in runs in the first inning off Chris Capuano (8-8) to help assure that the World Series champion Giants would go into the All-Star break in sole possession of first place in the NL West for the first time since 2003. San Francisco has a two-game lead over Arizona with one game left before the break.

"It's encouraging," Bochy said. "We still have one game before the break, but it's nice to try to wrap things up on a good note.

Santiago Casilla pitched a perfect seventh, Javier Lopez got five outs and Sergio Romo struck out Scott Hairston with a man on first for his first save since 2009.

Hairston hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning against All-Star Brian Wilson the previous night. That was his 12th long ball all time against the Giants, his most against any team. With Wilson unavailable after pitching the past three days, Romo fanned Hairston on three straight sliders.

"When they say it takes a different animal to be a closer they're right," Romo said. "The adrenaline you get out there is an incredible rush. I haven't had too many opportunities in my career to be in that position. For me the feeling afterward is borderline heart attack."

The Mets lost for just the second time in seven games and failed in their second attempt to move a season-high four games over .500

New York's only run came when Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy hit consecutive doubles with two outs in the first. That snapped a streak of 16 straight scoreless innings for the Mets against Lincecum.

But San Francisco answered with two in the bottom half for the only first-inning runs Capuano has allowed in 17 starts this season. Capuano had been the only pitcher in the majors with at least five starts who had not allowed a first-inning run.

But after giving up a double to Sandoval and a walk to Pat Burrell to load the bases with one out, Capuano was unable to escape. Schierholtz hit a ball up the middle to shortstop Ruben Tejada, who tried to tag Burrell to start an inning-ending double play.

But Tejada missed the tag and his throw to first was late, allowing Miguel Tejada to score on the infield hit. San Francisco added a second run on Huff's groundout.

"They weren't exactly tailor made," Capuano said. "They were a little bit in between. They were tough turns."

That was all the Giants could muster in six innings off Capuano, who allowed two runs, four hits and four walks to end a three-start winning streak.

"Capuano made good enough pitches to get out of the jam," manager Terry Collins said. "I thought he threw the ball good. They should not have scored."

Sandoval added an RBI groundout in the seventh off Bobby Parnell to make it 3-1.

Game notes
San Francisco LHP Jonathan Sanchez (left biceps tendinitis) threw a bullpen session before the game and will likely face hitters on the day off in San Diego next Wednesday before making a rehab start. ... Mets 3B David Wright (back) could start playing rehab games next week and would likely need 30 to 40 ABs in the minors before being ready to be activated.