Cougars spoil Lincecum's final home start

Making the final home start of his Husky career, Tim Lincecum pitched an eight hitter for his third complete game of the season and struck out 14 but came up on the short end of a 3-2 score as the Huskies dropped the opener of a season ending Pac-10 series against Washington State at Husky Ballpark on Friday night.

The Huskies suffered a severe blow to their postseason hopes and dropped to 9-13 in the Pac-10 and 34-25 overall, while the Cougars improved to 10-12 and 36-21.

1,617 fans packed the yard on a chilly, cloudy May evening and saw Lincecum get off to a shaky start in the first inning as he threw 32 pitches and allowed the Cougars to load the bases on an infield single by Travis Coulter and walks to Jared Prince and Jim Murphy. Lincecum escaped the inning unscathed though when he caught Zach McAngus looking for his third strikeout of the inning.

The Husky ace gave up two more hits in the second but got out of the inning when he retired Coulter on a line drive back to the mound. He then retired the side from the third through the fifth innings, striking out three batters in that span and giving him seven for the game. Lincecum also economized his pitch count, throwing only 11 pitches in each inning. In the sixth he gave up singles to Jay Miller, his Cougar career record setting 305th, and Prince, before setting down the next three batters.

The Cougars finally got to Lincecum in the seventh, capitalizing on an error by catcher Matt Lane to score two unearned runs and take a 2-1 lead. Paul Gran struck out swinging and apparently pinch hitter Scott Suttmeier did as well, for the second out, but Lane dropped strike three and then made a bad throw to first, allowing Suttmeier to reach safely. Suttmeier then stole second and scored on a double down the right field line by Ryan Krauser. Coulter struck out swinging but Jay Miller lined a double into the right field corner to plate Krauser and give the Cougars the lead.

In the eighth the Cougars added a run for a 3-1 lead when Murphy hit his eighth home run of the season, a shot over the wall between the flagpole and lightpost in left center field. After giving up the home run Lincecum retired the next three batters on only five pitches. McAngus fouled out to first; Jeff Miller grounded out to short and Gran struck out swinging.

In the ninth Lincecum capped a 143 pitch effort by retiring the side, striking out both Mike Gilbert and Matt Thomas looking and getting Coulter on a ground out to second.

With the tough luck loss Lincecum dropped to 12-4. He allowed three runs, one earned, on eight hits and two walks. His 14 strikeouts gave him 199 for the season, leaving him just one short of becoming only the second pitcher in Pac-10 history to record 200 in a single season. Mark Prior of USC holds the Pac-10 record with 202 in 2001.

Offensively, the Huskies got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead against starter Prince in the sixth. They loaded the bases on a single by Zach Clem and walks to Lane and pinch hitter Jake Rife. Matt Stevens then grounded into a fielder's choice to score Clem. The Huskies had a chance to do some more damage in the inning when Danny Cox walked to re-load the bases, but Bradley Boyer hit a shallow pop up to center to end the inning.

In the eighth Lane lined a 1-0 pitch from Jeremy Johnson into the screen for his 12th home run of the season, making the score 3-2. The Huskies had a great chance to tie the game in the last of the ninth against reliever Travis Webb when Boyer led off with a single to center and Andy Lentz laid down a perfect bunt between the mound and third for a hit. Matt Hague flew out deep to center, but on the play Boyer advanced to third and the tying run stood only 90 feet away from home.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, they did not get the clutch hit from their third and fourth hitters. Clem popped out to second base and Curt Rindal fouled out to first to end the game.

On the mound for Washington State, Johnson got the win to improve to 1-0. He went two and one thirds innings in relief, allowing a run on two hits and two walks. He struck out one. Webb picked up his eighth save of the season, going one and one thirds innings, allowing two hits while striking out one.

The Huskies and Cougars return to Husky Ballpark for the middle game of the three game series on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Top Stories