The combination of lime juice and so-called "mystery mud" seems to be working for Tim Lincecum, who took another step Tuesday night in his beat-the-blister crusade.

Lincecum is banking on more of the same in the 20 days before his season debut. Making his first Cactus League appearance after his 13-day blister break, Lincecum lasted 43 pitches in the Giants' 6-2 exhibition loss to the Padres, pitching two solid innings and getting pulled in the third.

"Every pitch probably could've been better altogether," said Lincecum, charged with three runs on four hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings. "I'm pleased with the way things went despite the results. The blister was no issue, and I was able to go out there for multiple innings."

Targeted to pitch at Dodger Stadium in the third game of the season, starting what he hopes is a return-to-form year, Lincecum can't afford any more setbacks. Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants' No. 1 and 2 starters, each have made four Cactus League appearances. Lincecum has made only two, though he threw a 32-pitch simulated game Saturday.

He probably has four exhibition starts left, and that should be enough if he keeps progressing.

"I have to make it work," said Lincecum, who'll continue to help the healing process by applying lime juice and a mixture of ingredients that he calls "mystery mud" to his finger.

Manager Bruce Bochy said, "There's no doubt in my mind that's plenty of time. We'll have him where we want him when the season starts, knock on wood nothing happens to the blister."

Lincecum already had pointed out that this is a vital spring training for him, considering he's coming off a 15-loss season in which he posted a 5.18 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, and he needs to prove those numbers were an aberration. His dominant showing as a reliever in the postseason evoked memories of his Cy Young Award seasons, but the next step is succeeding as a starter over six months.

"I definitely wanted to come in here and open eyes," Lincecum said. "Right now, the results aren't what I want, but my body compared with last year and what it is now is night and day. Building the positives from there is all I can do."