SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum the cover boy soon could be Tim Lincecum the All-Star starter -- or at least All-Star. And in his second big league season no less.
Lincecum increased his National League-leading strikeout total to 122 with eight K's in six innings and also singled in a run and scored from first, helping the San Francisco Giants salvage a four-game split with an 8-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
Lincecum (10-1) seemed unfazed -- and certainly not jinxed -- in his first start since he made the Sports Illustrated cover this week, trailing all of two innings before holding down the Cubs' dangerous lineup.
"They're excited for Timmy," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting recognized, as he should. I'm sure he's taking some razzing."
Actually, Lincecum's teammates went easy on him. So far.
"I'm not thinking out there, 'I'm the Sports Illustrated cover kid,"' Lincecum said. "That's the last thing going through my mind. ... Most guys are pretty cool about it, saying, 'Hey man, I'm happy for you.' It is what it is. It's just a magazine. I'm prepared for whatever."
Pinch-hitter Rich Aurilia hit a three-run homer in the seventh for some key insurance, his seventh home run and third career pinch-hit homer. He hadn't had a pinch-hit homer since June 12, 2003, at the Chicago White Sox during his first stint with San Francisco.
Fred Lewis hit an RBI triple in San Francisco's four-run second and Jose Castillo added an RBI double in the inning. The Cubs allowed another run on a routine popup by Ray Durham right along the third-base line that catcher Geovany Soto appeared to lose in the sun and dropped for an error. Lewis ran around him and stepped on the plate to make it 4-1.
Lincecum, barely 24, struck out the side in the fourth and struck out Soto on a 3-2 pitch in the sixth before allowing Mark DeRosa's two-run double that pulled Chicago within 4-3. Lincecum's strikeout total trails only Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia (123) for the big league lead.
As far as being an All-Star or even the NL starter on Rockies manager Clint Hurdle's staff, Lincecum insists he's not thinking about that either -- though Bochy acknowledged his pitcher is "getting some very strong consideration for that."
"I don't even know what determines that. I haven't thought about it," Lincecum said. "I'm just real fortunate to get the run support I have."
Derrek Lee singled in a run in the first that put Chicago ahead and Lee doubled leading off the sixth, but Keiichi Yabu struck him out on three pitches to end the seventh with the tying run on second. Lee had two of the Cubs' seven hits off Lincecum.
"Three pitches," Yabu said with a grin and holding up three fingers. "Curve, curve, split."
Sean Gallagher (3-4) saw his winless stretch reach five starts with his third straight lost decision. He hasn't won since June 1 against Colorado.
The Giants were outscored 16-9 over the first three games of the series, but made up for it in this one, gaining a bit of momentum heading into a home weekend series with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
"We didn't play that well at all and we got back in the ballgame. We just gave it up in a hurry," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Gallagher gave up four runs and then he started getting people out. He makes mistakes with his breaking balls. He leaves them up. Maybe he gets too pumped up. When he gets his breaking ball down, he's an effective pitcher."
Omar Vizquel's infield single in the seventh ended an 0-for-18 stretch and was just his third hit in his last 49 at-bats spanning 16 games. Aurilia followed with the home run off Carlos Marmol. Vizquel had a run-scoring single up the middle in the eighth for his first multihit game since May 21 and first RBI since a squeeze play June 24.
Aramis Ramirez rejoined the Cubs after missing the first three games in the Bay Area to be home in the Dominican Republic for a family matter.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, sidelined with a broken left hand, was re-examined Thursday in Chicago and is set to rejoin the team Friday in St. Louis and begin hitting off the tee.