The San Francisco Giants' two-time Cy Young Award winner struggled again on Saturday in his fourth start of the spring. The right-hander gave up five runs and six hits in three-plus innings, including a long homer to Yoenis Cespedes, as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Giants 12-5.
Lincecum is 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA. He expects to make one more start before he slides into the rotation at No. 3, behind right-hander Matt Cain and lefty Madison Bumgarner. But a few more outings like Saturday's might have Giants manager Bruce Bochy pondering whether to move Lincecum to the bullpen, where he excelled in the postseason last year after a rocky regular season.
"I had some good moments and some bad ones," said Lincecum, who threw 80 pitches. "I still need to try to get my pitch count up. But I am not finishing guys off. I had a good fastball, but it all goes back to location.
"It's all a matter of repeating my mechanics."
He said he is physically ahead of where he was a year ago, when he came into camp not in the same condition that he had been in previous springs. He went on to finish 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA.
Lincecum struck out five and walked three. He walked Coco Crisp leading off the game and fanned the next two batters before Cespedes unloaded on an 0-1 pitch, sending it into the trees atop the grass berm in left field. Lincecum said it was a spinning slider that didn't break.
Cespedes had three hits on the day, as did Eric Sogard and Seth Smith.
The A's continued to tag the Giants pitchers who followed Lincecum to the mound. Oakland finished with 17 hits and six walks.
Sogard is making a bid for an opening-day infield spot with perhaps an outside shot to start. His three hits included a solo homer off Shane Loux with one out in the fifth. Sogard, who also walked, is 21 for 39 (.538) this spring.
"We need to try to cryogenically freeze him," manager Bob Melvin said.
Sogard, who has had a utility role in recent seasons, again came into camp in the middle of the mix, according to Melvin. But the way Sogard has been hitting, "he has come out of the pack a little," the manager said.
Adam Rosales also homered for Oakland. The Giants had a pair of home runs, including Brandon Belt's seventh of the spring and Cole Gillespie's first. Belt has eight RBIs in his past five games.
Melvin was encouraged by Tommy Milone's start. The left-hander, who won 13 games as a rookie in 2012, gave up three runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked one and struck out four to earn his second win of the spring.
"He threw much better than he has, pitched his type of game," Melvin said.
NOTES: Oakland claimed 1B Nate Freiman off waivers from Houston. Freiman, who hit .298 with 24 home runs and 105 RBIs for the San Diego Padres' Double-A affiliate in San Antonio, was selected by Houston in the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings. He must spend the entire regular season on the A's active roster or be exposed to waivers and offered back to the Padres. ... OF Josh Reddick is expected to return to the Oakland lineup Sunday after leaving Friday night's game with a sprained left ankle. ... Giants C Buster Posey had a tough day defensively with a pair of passed balls. ... Giants closer Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless seventh. ... The crowd of 12,224 at Scottsdale Stadium was the Giants' largest at home this spring.