SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum was happy that he reached 80 pitches Saturday against the Oakland A's, putting him in line to be ready for a full workload when he makes his season debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 3.
The other numbers in the box score weren't as positive.
Those 80 pitches didn't get Lincecum through the fourth inning, and he was charged with five runs on six hits and three walks. Of the 18 hitters Lincecum faced, nine reached base, including Yoenis Cespedes, who touched every base after a mammoth homer in the first inning.
"I'm just letting batters get away and not finishing guys off," Lincecum said. "It goes back to location. I'm not repeating my mechanics, but I don't feel like I'm too far off."
Lincecum was heartened by the fact that he struck out five, including three in a first inning that ended with the A's leading 2-0 after Cespedes deposited a "spinning slider" high up on the berm beyond the left field wall. While he struggled with fastball command, Lincecum had a sharp curveball, one he threw three straight times to Coco Crisp to get a quick second-inning strikeout.
Through four Cactus League starts, Lincecum has a 10.97 ERA. Manager Bruce Bochy said there are no plans to alter Lincecum's schedule as he tries to find his footing before the regular season begins.
"He just never really got in a good rhythm today," Bochy said. "He had trouble getting the ball where he wanted to.
This outing, hopefully he learns from and regroups. He was out of sync, and it was obvious from the start."
Lincecum is the only Giants starter who has yet to get through five innings but said he feels better physically than he did at this time last spring and just needs more game action after missing much of the spring with a blister.
"As I see (live hitters) more and more, things will fall into place," he said. "Throwing to hitters more often will benefit me."
Catcher Buster Posey said Lincecum's struggles were due in large part to a fastball that stayed up in the zone, but Posey didn't doubt that Lincecum could find a fix so close to the start of the season.
"Timmy is working his tail off, that's the main thing," Posey said. "That's what it's going to take -- keep on grinding."
--Pablo Sandoval, who has ulnar neuritis in his right elbow, tried to play catch Saturday morning but felt pain. Bochy said it's too early to declare that Sandoval could miss opening day but added that if Sandoval can't throw Sunday, that might become the case.
The Giants aren't currently considering surgery as an option.
--The Giants lost to the A's 12-5 at Scottsdale Stadium. In the sixth inning, first baseman Brandon Belt hit his seventh homer of the spring and third in two days. Angel Pagan was 1 for 3 in his first game back from the World Baseball Classic, and Cole Gillespie, battling Francisco Peguero for the last outfield spot, hit a deep homer to center. Brandon Crawford added a pair of hits to raise his spring average to .333.
Nick Noonan, brought back to big league camp on Friday, had two hits and played both middle infield positions. With Tony Abreu still sidelined, Noonan is the favorite to make the opening day roster as a backup infielder.
--Hector Sanchez said he no longer has pain in his shoulder and expects to start a game behind the plate early next week. Marco Scutaro (back tightness) felt healthy enough to play Saturday, but Bochy told him to take another day off. ___