SAN FRANCISCO -– In golfing terms, Tim Lincecum’s every inning was a drive into the trees, a punch-out iron and a sand save for par.
When you throw 55 balls and 57 strikes, you’re going to do your share of scrambling. That’s how it went Friday night for Lincecum, who allowed 11 baserunners and issued six walks – one short of matching his career high -- yet somehow held the Minnesota Twins to two runs in six innings.
Pablo Sandoval hit a home run in the first inning that staked Lincecum to a three-run lead, Brandon Hicks added a solo shot and the Giants opened their homestand with a 6-2 victory at AT&T Park.
Angel Pagan and Brandon Crawford tripled and scored, and Crawford made yet another tremendous defensive snag as the Giants improved to 4-0 in interleague play.
Starting pitching report
It’s a quality start in the books for Lincecum (4-3), even though he faced 28 batters and reached an 0-2 count against just one of them.
Lincecum’s best pitch was the fire extinguisher. He got a couple of key strikeouts and ground balls from the stretch. But he also leaned on external factors: perhaps the most impressive play all season from Crawford, which is saying something, as well as the Twins’ making two outs on the basepaths –- including one at the plate when Eduardo Escobar ran on contact.
The Twins scored both their runs off Lincecum in the third inning when Brian Dozier singled and Joe Mauer hit an RBI triple -– his first three-bagger since 2012 -- to right-center. Mauer scored on a ground out.
Lincecum was in danger of losing a 4-2 lead in the fourth when he issued a pair of one-out walks and threw a wild pitch that deflected painfully off the bare hand of catcher Hector Sanchez. Curiously, the Twins let pitcher Kyle Gibson hit and he sent a grounder to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, whose throw arrived to the plate with time to spare as Minnesota ran into an out. Doziero struck out as Lincecum essentially sank a 55-footer to escape a scoreless inning.
In the fifth, Crawford left his feet to catch Trevor Plouffe’s scalded line drive up the middle. Lincecum loaded the bases anyway, but escaped when Escobar grounded out to strand the bases loaded.
The Twins stranded eight runners in the first five innings and were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position against Lincecum.
They set the tone in the first inning when Dozier doubled off the cartoon cars on the first pitch of the game, then got picked off when he ran on Lincecum’s first move.
Lincecum has a winning record after at least seven decisions for the first time since 2011.
Jeremy Affeldt pitched a scoreless seventh inning but Javier Lopez retired just one of his three batters in the eighth.
Jean Machi, assuming Santiago Casilla’s setup duties, did not falter in his more leveraged role. He induced a double-play grounder to bail out Lopez, then worked a 1-2-3 ninth.
At the plate
The Giants improved to 21-4 when they score first, and Sandoval put them on the board in an eventful first inning.
Pagan started the rally with a double down the left field line, then Hunter Pence hit an infield chopper and was called out. The Giants didn’t need to consult replay adviser Shawon Dunston. Pence’s protestations made it plain enough, and the replays were even plainer, that first base umpire Jerry Meals blew the call. It took 35 seconds to overturn it and put runners at the corners.
Buster Posey followed with a grounder to third base and Pagan stutter stepped, then sprinted home when Plouffe threw to second base. It would’ve been a double play, but Dozier immediately threw home to cut down Pagan at the plate.
The out came at a cost, though. Dozier took his bag off second base before receiving the throw, and umpire Paul Emmel called Pence safe. Instead of two outs, the bases empty and a run in, Sandoval batted with one out and two aboard. They all waltzed home when the Panda crushed a first-pitch fastball into the arcade.
It was Sandoval’s third homer in five games; he had gone without a homer in 29 consecutive games prior to that.
Pagan tripled and scored on an error in the third inning and Hicks, who has a talent for barreling up hanging breaking balls, went deep in the fourth. Crawford tripled and scored on Hicks’ sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Brandon Crawford. That is all.
The Giants announced 41,514 paid.
The Giants and Twins continue their three-game series at AT&T Park on Saturday. Ryan Vogelsong (2-2, 3.62 ERA) takes the mound against Twins right-hander Samuel Deduno (1-2, 3.53 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PDT.