Skid Stopper

Tim Lincecum has been the San Francisco Giants' skid stopper, helping them rebound from losses eight times this season.

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The emerging ace will try to do it again Friday night when the Giants open a four-game series against the last-place Washington Nationals.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made San Francisco -120 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 78% of bets for this game have been placed on San Francisco -120 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The Giants (25-35) are 8-1 when Lincecum (7-1, 2.23 ERA) takes the mound following a defeat, and he's 6-0 with a 2.51 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 57 1-3 innings in those games.

The 23-year-old right-hander helped San Francisco avoid a third straight loss on Sunday, holding San Diego to one run and four hits in seven innings of a 4-3, 10-inning victory.

"He probably didn't have quite his best stuff," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after Lincecum struck out a season-low two batters. "He didn't get his normal strikeouts, but he threw strikes and pitched effectively and did a great job."

In three of his previous four starts, Lincecum posted victories as the Giants snapped losing streaks of two, six and five games.

For the third straight start, Lincecum will look to help San Francisco avoid a three-game skid. The Giants fell 5-3 to New York on Wednesday to conclude a 2-4 homestand, and now they kick off a seven-game road trip.

Lincecum is 5-0 with a 1.72 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 36 2-3 innings in six road games.

In his only career start against the Nationals (25-36) on Aug. 6, he allowed one run and struck out eight in seven innings of a 3-2, 11-inning victory.

The Giants are expected to have second baseman Ray Durham back in the starting lineup after he strained his left calf running the bases in Tuesday's 9-6 loss to the Mets. His return could mean Travis Denker goes back to the bench after the rookie went 4-for-7 with three extra-base hits, including a three-run homer, while filling in at second the last two games.

Washington ended a four-game losing streak by winning the nightcap of Thursday's doubleheader against St. Louis. The Nationals dropped the first game 4-1 before Elijah Dukes hit a two-run, walk-off homer in the 10th for a 10-9 victory.

Dukes had his best performance of the season in the second game, going 4-for-6 with four RBIs and coming a double shy of the cycle to increase his batting average 48 points to .203. The left fielder, who was on the disabled list from March 31-May 9 with a hamstring injury, managed only two RBIs in his first 23 games with Washington after being acquired from Tampa Bay in the offseason.

"He has had some good at-bats of late. I hope this game helps him out," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "He's had a rough time until now. He hangs in there. He's had some tough at-bats. Things hadn't been working out up until today."

Jason Bergmann (1-2, 4.50), facing San Francisco for the first time, hopes Dukes and the offense can have another big night Friday. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 20 2-3 innings over his last three starts - all Washington losses - while getting only two total runs of support.

Bergmann threw the first complete game of his career Saturday, but four of the seven hits he allowed were homers and he was outdueled by Brandon Webb as the Giants lost 4-0 to Arizona. Bergmann, who entered that game having thrown 19 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings, struck out eight for the second straight start.

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