Lincecum: 'Buster and I did a great job staying on the same page'
Lincecum walked four, hit a batter and struck out 13 – his most since a 15-strikeout game in 2009. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN DIEGO – This was, without any doubt, the happiest of Lincecum Days.
Against the Padres, Lincecum is forever Cy Young. But he was even more than that Saturday night. For all the lofty heights he’s reached in his career – two Cy Young Awards, two World Series rings, eternal admiration in the Bay Area – his accomplishment at Petco Park might taste the sweetest.
Lincecum threw the first no-hitter of his career, the 15th in franchise history, the seventh in the Giants' San Francisco era and their third in five years, joining Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez after dazzling the San Diego Padres in the Giants’ 9-0 victory at Petco Park.
Hunter Pence made the most spectacular defensive save, charging to make a sliding catch of Alexi Amarista’s sinking line drive to end the eighth. Lincecum raised a fist as Pence scrambled to his feet.
[RELATED: No-hitter is meaningful for defensive stars Pence, Sandoval]
Pence once joked that Cain wouldn’t have thrown his perfect game since he wouldn’t have made the catch that Blanco did. Turns out he’s a handy man to have, though.
Lincecum had taken a no-hit bid to the seventh inning twice before in his career. He’d never taken one to the eighth. He hadn’t even thrown a complete game since May 21, 2011, when he three-hit the A’s.
It cost him a career high 148 pitches – 10 more than he’d ever thrown in his career -- but he struck out Chase Headley, got Carlos Quentin to fly out to left field, and then Yonder Alonso lofted a fly ball that left fielder Gregor Blanco squeezed to set off a celebration.
Posey tackled Lincecum from behind almost the moment Blanco made the catch as the team stormed the field. Ryan Vogelsong doused everyone with the water bucket. And the Giants gleefully propped up their former ace who mixed guts and guile as he pulled one more start out of his brilliant past.
Lincecum walked four, hit a batter and struck out 13 – his most since a 15-strikeout game in 2009.
Starting pitching report
Just like in 2009, when Jonathan Sanchez had been banished to the bullpen before returning to throw his no-hitter against the Padres, this was a feat that you couldn’t see coming.
Lincecum hadn’t won in six starts since June 4 and his drought was even worse on the road. He entered with an 0-6 record and 5.82 ERA in his last seven starts away from AT&T Park. He hadn’t won on the road since April 3 at Dodger Stadium.
But there were signs in recent weeks that he had turned a corner, had learned to mix his pitches and to use his curveball to set up his more reliable changeup. And four years and three days after Sanchez’s feat, Lincecum joined franchise lore.
By the second time through the lineup, Lincecum had struck out every Padre at least once except for Carlos Quentin. And he matched a career best by striking out six consecutive hitters from the second to the fourth innings. The only other time he did that was June 23, 2011 vs. Twins.
That was one measure of how good his stuff was. It was fooling everyone.
Lincecum’s 26 swings and misses were the most in a start in his career. He got nine of them on sliders, six on changeups, six on fastballs and five on curves.
In summary, everything was sharp. Everything was lethal. Even if he doesn’t throw 95 mph any longer.
Lincecum hadn’t had a double-digit strikeout game all season before he fanned 11 against the Mets, then followed it up with something even more brilliant against his favorite foil.
He put together consecutive double-digit strikeout games for the first time since 2010. He has 34 double-digit strikeout games in his career.
[RELATED: How Tim Lincecum no-hit the Padres: `I'm evolving as a pitcher']
The bullpen was busy from the sixth inning. But nobody was going to come through that gate until Lincecum gave up a hit.
At the plate
The Giants’ offensive awakening continued, and two of their most important hitters could exhale after a trying first half.
Pablo Sandoval doubled in each of his first two at-bats – his first game with multiple extra-base hits since … yep, Game 1 of the World Series, when he belted three home runs against the Detroit Tigers.
Hunter Pence hit a bases-clearing triple in the fifth inning, giving him as many RBIs with one swing as he had in his previous 17 games combined. Pence also homered to complete a five-RBI night – his most since 2009 with Houston.
Pence was 1 for 26 with runners in scoring position before the triple, which made it 8-0.
And Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer that traveled 414 feet. It was his 10th of the season, setting a career high.
One more: Sandoval has knocked in a run in three consecutive games – the first time he’s done that since May 11-15.
Buster Posey did his usual thing with three hits and three runs, too – proving once again that when the middle of the order hits, good things happen.
Sandoval’s defensive range has been much maligned, but he made a clean stop down the line of pinch hitter Jesus Guzman’s grounder and then set and fired across the diamond for the out to end the seventh.
The play of the night belonged to Pence, though.
The Padres announced 40,342 paid. You tend to hear Giants fans loudest here. But by the ninth, everyone was a Lincecum fan.
The Giants and Padres complete their four-game series at Petco Park on Sunday, then head off for the All-Star break. Barry Zito (4-6, 4.62 ERA) takes the mound, and unbelievably, he’s still looking for his first road win of the season. The Padres will start left-hander Eric Stults (7-7, 3.50). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PDT.