The first six weeks of the season weren't easy for the San Francisco Giants, but the defending World Series champions are hoping they finally have some momentum after finishing off their first sweep.
Having Tim Lincecum on the mound for the opener of a home series with Arizona could be a great recipe for the start of another.
Coming off perhaps his sharpest outing of the season, Lincecum faces the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night looking to give the Giants their 16th win in 20 meetings.
San Francisco (18-16) hasn't exactly come roaring out of the gate in defense of the franchise's first championship in 56 years, but it's above .500 despite outscoring only San Diego and Minnesota.
Pitching keyed the Giants' World Series run, and that's again been the team's strength this season. San Francisco starters posted a 1.86 ERA in a three-game weekend series against Colorado, capped by 6 1-3 innings of one-hit ball from Ryan Vogelsong in a 3-0, sweep-completing victory Sunday.
San Francisco has won five of six despite totaling 21 runs.
"It's early but it's good to get a sweep," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's so much baseball left. This is going to be a battle but we certainly helped our cause by coming in here and winning some games."
The Giants have certainly had the Diamondbacks' number in recent years, winning 13 of 18 in both 2009 and 2010. San Francisco took two of three at Chase Field from April 15-17 and has outscored Arizona 93-61 in going 15-4 in the last 19 matchups.
Lincecum (3-3, 2.47 ERA) will try to keep it going after an outstanding effort in New York on Wednesday. After a pair of so-so starts in losses to Atlanta and Washington, the two-time Cy Young Award winner bounced back against the Mets, holding them to five hits over seven innings and striking out 12 in a 2-0 win.
The right-hander surpassed Christy Mathewson for the most double-digit strikeout efforts in team history with 29 - three of which have come in his last six starts.
"Terrific job," Bochy said. "He's one of those special guys, when he's had to turn it up a notch he can do it."
Lincecum has typically turned it up against the Diamondbacks (15-18), though he was just 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in five meetings last season. He has gone 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in eight career starts versus Arizona at AT&T Park, with four double-digit strikeout games.
Justin Upton is 9 for 28 (.321) against Lincecum, but Stephen Drew (.200), Chris Young (.158) and Miguel Montero (.156) have had far less success.
With Lincecum on the hill, the Diamondbacks can't afford to fall behind early, something that's consistently plagued them. Arizona gave up four first-inning runs in a 4-3 loss to San Diego on Sunday and has allowed 30 runs in the opening inning this season.
Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.80) has given up four runs in the first this season, but none of those have come in his last four outings. He's posted a 1.93 ERA during that stretch, and gave up two runs over six innings of a 3-2, 11-inning win over Colorado on Thursday.
Kennedy was 1-2 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts versus San Francisco last season. Catcher Buster Posey, in a 2-for-21 slump, is 5 for 11 against Kennedy.