SEATTLE -- Upon arriving in his hometown, Tim Lincecum spoke passionately about making a stand, saying it was time to prove he is worthy of being in the rotation.
When the moment of truth came Saturday night, Lincecum again came up short.
The 7-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners was the career-high sixth straight defeat for Lincecum, who couldn't hold a 4-2 lead.
Lincecum gave up two runs in the fifth inning and put the go-ahead run on before exiting in the sixth. He was charged with five runs in five-plus innings.
Lincecum's ERA rose to 6.19, and his record fell to 2-8.
"It's not about how it came about -- immediately you look at the 'L' " he said. "Right now, I'm not happy about the loss."
There are three right-handers in the rotation. The Giants have won 16 straight games with Matt Cain or Ryan Vogelsong on the mound; they have lost nine straight when Lincecum takes the ball.
With a day off Thursday, the Giants could opt to skip Lincecum's next start and let him work things out in a different manner. But he was forceful when the possibility was broached.
"I want to pitch every fifth day," he said. "I want that ball."
Lincecum, a former University of Washington star, was making his first start in Seattle. He couldn't have gotten off to a worse start.
Casper Wells homered on Lincecum's sixth pitch and two batters later, Jesus Montero hit a slider deep into the upper deck. Lincecum said he
Lincecum had received more than three runs of support only three times in his first 13 starts, but the Giants twice put rallies together early in the game to give him the lead.
Ryan Theriot and Buster Posey had RBI singles in the third inning, and Theriot and Melky Cabrera brought runs home with singles in the fourth.
As Lincecum entered the fifth, he had retired 10 of 11, often looking like the Lincecum of old. In a dominant fourth inning, Lincecum got Montero looking on a curveball and blew a fastball past Justin Smoak.
"He's too good at times, and that's why we've kept saying: 'He's close, he's close,' " manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's hard to explain because he's so good at times and then he has his hiccups."
Lincecum was a different guy when he came out in the fifth and immediately had to pitch out of the stretch because of Dustin Ackley's single. Lincecum walked John Jaso on four pitches, and after a sacrifice bunt, Ichiro Suzuki's sharp bouncer was just out of Lincecum's reach. Ackley scored on the infield single.
"I felt like I could have gotten out of that inning if I catch that ball," Lincecum said. "It was right to me. I should have caught it. I just missed it."
Jaso scored the tying run on a wild pitch before Lincecum buckled down to get out of the inning.
When Montero singled to open the sixth, Lincecum's night was over. Jeremy Affeldt entered, and four hits later the Mariners had scored three runs to take a 7-4 lead. The first one was charged to Lincecum, who has not won a game since April 28.
"He was pitching his heart out, and we let the game get out of reach," Bochy said. "It was similar to most of his other games."
Arias started his fourth straight game, returning to third base in place of Sandoval, the designated hitter. Arias had been at shortstop a night before and extended his hitting streak to nine games.
"I really wanted to keep Arias going," Bochy said of his lineup moves. "This is our best defensive team. We get Sandoval's bat in there with Joaquin's glove."
Arias immediately rewarded Bochy's faith Saturday, making a tough barehanded play on a slow bunt in the fifth.
Arias has sparkled defensively regardless of where Bochy has put him.
Brandon Belt had a single and is hitting .412 with three homers and seven RBIs in the last five games.