- Associated Press - Sunday, August 10, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Tim Lincecum got off to a slow start and never recovered. It’s turning into a disturbing trend for the San Francisco Giants.

Lincecum was knocked out in the fourth inning and the Giants went on to a 7-4 loss to the Royals on Sunday. While Kansas City is challenging Detroit for the AL Central lead, San Francisco has lost four in a row and five of six.

Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, was charged with six runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings. Four of the runs came in the first, including Alex Gordon’s two-run homer.

“It was an uphill climb after the start we got off to,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was Lincecum’s command. He was all over the board. When he threw a strike or threw an off-speed pitch it was up. He regrouped, but it’s tough when you get down four runs.”

Lincecum (9-8) was yanked after 73 pitches. He has lasted 4 1-3 innings or fewer in three of his last four starts.

“You just see how far you can go to give your team a chance to fight back and get in the game,” Lincecum said about the four-run first.

Lincecum, who pitched a no-hitter against San Diego on June 25, is winless since July 11. He has a 10.59 ERA in his past four starts, giving up 20 runs and 28 hits in 17 innings.

The Royals had five of their seven steals when Lincecum was on the mound.

“I just didn’t do a good job of managing the baserunners,” Lincecum said. “Next time I have to do a better job of being cognizant of the runners on base. I didn’t execute a lot of pitches, especially with runners on base. That’s my responsibility. It’s under my control.”

Rookie catcher Andrew Susac also accepted some of the blame for the Royals’ stolen bases.

“I had a lot of trouble gripping the ball,” Susac said. “I’m sweating and I’m looking out at him (Lincecum) and he’s sweating. The ball gets slippery. You try to figure out a way to stop the sweating. From my perspective, your hands are so freaking wet that you can’t grip the ball.”

Salvador Perez also homered and Danny Duffy pitched into the seventh inning as the Royals earned their seventh consecutive win.

Kansas City, which won 10 in a row in June, has put together two winning streaks of seven or more games this season for the first time since 1985, the last time it was in the playoffs.

Perez homered off Juan Gutierrez with Nori Aoki aboard in a three-run fourth. Aoki reached base four times - two walks and two singles - and stole three bases.

Jarrod Dyson went 3 for 3 and also swiped three bases. The Royals’ seven steals were one shy of the club record set on Aug. 1, 1998.

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