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NL West Battle

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy thinks starter Tim Lincecum is one of the best in baseball, and he'll get a great chance to prove it on Sunday.

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Lincecum will try to help the Giants avoid their first three-game sweep at home against the Padres in more than three years as the teams meet at AT&T Park.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made San Francisco -140 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 7.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 65% of bets for this game have been placed on San Francisco –140 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Lincecum (7-1, 2.33 ERA), in just his second season in the majors, owns the second-lowest ERA in the National League behind Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez. The 23-year-old right-hander went 7 1-3 innings on Tuesday, allowing three runs in a 6-3 victory in Arizona and winning his third straight decision.

"He's special," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's one of the better pitchers in the game."

Lincecum, whose lone defeat was a 3-2 loss against Colorado on April 29, thinks Bochy might be exaggerating a bit.

"It would be something to really be able to be that, but I've got a lot to work on and stuff right now," he said. "I'm hoping that it's not just now. I want to have a long career. It was just a great compliment and I appreciate it."

Regardless of how he compares to the rest of the majors, Lincecum has clearly emerged as the Giants' ace. He has as many wins as the rest of the rotation, which has combined for 20 losses.

The Giants (23-33) are 6-0 when Lincecum starts after a defeat, and they are hoping he can stay undefeated in that situation. San Francisco lost 5-1 on Saturday and is in danger of being swept at home in three games by the Padres (23-34) for the first time since May 27-29, 2005.

The loss was also San Francisco's seventh straight at home, its longest skid in the nine-year history of AT&T Park.

"We've gotten big into (the concept of), when guys struggle, you have to pick them up. It's more a team thing," Lincecum told the Giants' official team Web site of his role as stopper. "I've been getting great run support and great defense behind me to be able to do that."

Lincecum is 1-1 with a 1.40 ERA in four career starts against the Padres. In his two starts this season, he has allowed just one run in 12 1-3 innings while winning once, 1-0 in San Diego on April 24.

The Padres own the second-worst record in the NL - ahead of only the Rockies - but have won five of their last six. Josh Banks pitched a six-hitter Saturday, giving some much-needed rest to the bullpen after a 13-inning, 7-3 win in Friday's series opener.

``A great job on a day when we truly needed length from a starter," manager Bud Black said. "To go a complete game is a tremendous effort. Hats off to Josh."

Now, Randy Wolf (3-4, 4.59) will try to help San Diego extend its season-high three-game winning streak.

Wolf gave up two runs in six innings but didn't get a decision in the Padres' 4-2 win over Washington on Tuesday. He has gone at least six innings in three straight starts, but is just 1-1 over that span.

Wolf is 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 11 career starts against the Giants. He gave up two runs in six innings in the Padres' 11-inning, 3-2 loss in San Francisco on April 8.

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