Lincecum aces Coors Field test, keeps Giants atop NL West

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DENVER -- Tim Lincecum has done a lot in his young career. He's won two Cy Young awards. He's pitched in an All-Star Game.

But he's never shouldered the load in a pressure-packed September game full of playoff implications.

Now you can add that line to the 26-year old's resume.

"Everybody sees what's in our reach," Lincecum said before the decisive series in Colorado. "We're playing for a cause. I have to keep my poise and not let my emotions get the best of me."

Lincecum did that and then some, giving up just two hits through eight innings at Coors Field. He struck out nine before turning the ball over to closer Brian Wilson, who notched his 45th save. The Giants beat the Rockies 2-1, pushing the Rockies to the brink of elimination.

Lincecum has rediscovered his Cy Young form this September, just in time for the Giants playoff push. After going through the roughest stretch of his career -- losing all five starts in August while recording a 7.82 ERA -- Lincecum is now 4-1 in September.

"Just taking it a little bit more serious," he said. "We know what's at stake."

The Giants' first playoff berth since 2003 is at stake in these final nine games. No performance in Lincecum's career was bigger than Friday's in the Coors pinball machine.

Coming in, the Rockies knew exactly what they had to do: rekindle their September magic.

"Obviously, that's our goal -- to sweep them," Troy Tulowitzki said. "It's pretty much reality."

But reality bit the Rockies. Colorado -- a week ago the hottest team in the National League -- lost its fifth straight game and fell 4½ games behind the Giants with nine games to play. To make the playoffs, Colorado has to desperately try to recreate 2007's late-season mojo -- that year they won 21 of their last 22 games to make it to the postseason and eventually the World Series.

Though the Rockies had been swept in Arizona, manager Jim Tracy didn't feel the need to call a team meeting.

"That would be like shooting up a red flare and taking red paint and painting panic on the wall," Tracy said.

But today there is panic on the Rockies' wall. They're running out of games.

In contrast, after the Giants were shut out for the fourth time in ten games in Chicago this week, Bruce Bochy did opt to have a meeting with his hitters. While the Giants pitching staff is making history -- Friday's game was the 18th consecutive in which Giants held their opponent to three runs or fewer, the longest streak since 1917 -- the offense struggles.

Bochy asked his players to please grind out quality at-bats. The immediate result was a 13-0 win over the Cubs on Thursday. While there was no such offensive explosion on Friday, but the Giants made Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin work.

Chacin came close to matching Lincecum, giving up just three hits. But he came into the seventh inning having thrown 105 pitches. He walked Giants rookie Buster Posey to start the inning.

Pat Burrell, one of the players general manager Brian Sabean acquired midseason in an attempt to bolster the Giants struggling offense, followed with a bomb to left field.

That was all it took to give Lincecum a new line in his resume. And to push the Rockies to the brink.