CINCINNATI -- They say Billy Hamilton is the fastest big leaguer in years, and at first glance, the Cincinnati Reds rookie center fielder lived up to the legends. The problem for the Giants on Tuesday was that Hamilton wasn't the only one running wild at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds stole four bases, took three more on throwing errors and spent the rest of the night piling up run-scoring base hits in an 8-3 win over the Giants, who played their sloppiest baseball of the season. Hamilton faced Lincecum three times, reaching on two leadoff hits. In those two innings, the Reds scored all eight of their runs. Lincecum said he lost his focus with Hamilton dancing around out of the corner of his eye, and it cost him.
"I didn't do a good job of focusing batter to batter," Lincecum said. "I knew Hamilton is a big part of their offense and him getting on two out of three times against me kind of just flustered me a little bit on timing to the plate and variations of times to the plate. I let it get to me in those two big innings.
"I needed to do a better job of just eliminating him when he gets on base -- not thinking about him so much and just worrying about what I had ahead of me."
Hamilton made his name by stealing 100 bases in consecutive minor league seasons, including 155 in 2012. He had 33 steals in 63 big league games coming into Tuesday's series opener, and put immediate pressure on Lincecum with a leadoff double. For all of Hamilton's God-given ability, though, he still has a bit to learn against major leaguers. Hamilton had been caught stealing six times in his first 26 attempts this season, and Lincecum had him dead in the water when he spun off the mound as Hamilton broke for third. Lincecum's throw skipped into center field and Hamilton scored easily.
"You see that happen a lot," manager Bruce Bochy said. "The guy does the spin move and they're surprised, and they aren't ready to throw or they panic. I think he rushed it there."
By the time Lincecum found his rhythm, the Reds had added an RBI double and a two-run homer from Devin Mesoraco and led 4-1. Facing Homer Bailey, a pitcher who no-hit them last July, the Giants scored in each of the first three innings and cut the deficit to one. But the Reds added another four-spot in the fifth, and this time Hamilton terrorized catcher Hector Sanchez.
Hamilton reached on an infield single and wasted little time taking off for second. Sanchez knew he should have held the breaking ball, but his instincts took over and he fired a throw from his knees. It went into center field and Hamilton scampered to third.
"I tried to do too much and that's what happened. I (messed) it up," Sanchez said. "Everybody knows what kind of runner that kid is. You give a lot of credit to that kid."
The 23-year-old put it more succinctly.
"It's fun being fast," Hamilton said.
He again ignited a long rally as the Reds continued to take advantage of a flustered battery. Brandon Phillips had a two-run double and then stole his first bag of the season, practically walking the first several steps to third as Lincecum brain-cramped. Jay Bruce is far from Hamilton on the speed spectrum, but he mimicked the burner after a run-scoring single, taking off for second and reaching third when Sanchez again sailed a throw into center.
The Giants (37-21) made a season-high four errors as Lincecum took one of the worst lines of his career. He was knocked out in the fifth and charged with eight earned runs for just the second time in 232 starts. The other one came last July 22, also against the Reds.
Lincecum had a 2.86 ERA in six May starts but was disappointed with a sky-high walk rate. After Tuesday's shelling, his ERA this season is up to 5.01 in 12 starts. His search for consistency has hit Year 3, and it continues.
"It is frustrating," he said. "It's been (some positive) things here and things there, but nothing all encompassing. I'm trying to find a way to get to that, you know? Maybe it'll be my 13th start."
Earlier in the day, Yasiel Puig was named National League player of the month. Bumgarner and the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder angrily exchanged words at home plate May 9 when Puig flipped his bat on a solo homer off Bumgarner.
"Funny how it worked out," Bumgarner said, smiling. "Maybe we can take a picture together."
Giants (Ryan Vogelsong 3-2) at Cincinnati (Tony Cingrani 2-5), 4:10 p.m. CSNBA