Tim Lincecum tosses no-hitter as Giants beat Padres

2:02 AM, Jul 14, 2013   |    comments
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum reacts after throwing a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. (Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports)
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(USA TODAY) -- Tim Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner whose struggles this season nearly got him banished to the San Francisco Giants' bullpen, achieved one of the high points of his decorated career Saturday night when he threw the first no-hitter of his career, against the Padres in San Diego.

Lincecum dominated the Padres, recording a season-high 14 strikeouts and throwing a career-high 148 pitches in a 9-0 victory over the Padres.

"I'm kind of speechless right now," Lincecum said in a postgame TV interview.

BOX SCORE: Giants 9, Padres 0

Lincecum, a free agent after this season, had not recorded an out in the eighth inning of any start this season, and his outings have been at times erratic and dominant.

But his marketability will surely rise after Saturday's gem, which came after he showed some signs of returning to his dominant self. In his last previous outing, he struck out 11 New York Mets over seven innings in earning a no-decision.

Saturday, he benefited from great defensive plays from third baseman Pablo Sandoval and right fielder Hunter Pence, whose diving stab of a sinking line drive hit by Alexi Amarista finished off the eighth inning and gave Lincecum and the 40,342 fans at Petco Park the sense that this thing was happening.

That Lincecum was at 138 pitches to start the ninth was of little consequence to he or manager Bruce Bochy.

"He wouldn't have talked to me the rest of the year," said Bochy, "if I'd have taken him out."

Lincecum's previous high pitch count this season was 114, on May 7 against the Phillies, but the thin right-hander is no stranger to running up his counts.

In 2008, he threw a career-high 138 pitches, in a September start against the Padres. That was one of seven starts that season in which he threw at least 119 pitches.

That season, he won 18 games, struck out 265 and won the first of his two consecutive Cy Young Awards.

Lincecum went on to win two games in the 2010 World Series, helping the Giants to their first championship in San Francisco, but he struggled the next two seasons as rotation mate Matt Cain, who threw a perfect game 13 months ago, established himself as the Giants' ace.

But Lincecum did not complain when the Giants relegated him to the bullpen during the 2012 postseason, and he played a crucial relief role as the club won its second World Series title in three years.

The going was far rougher earlier in the season. After two starts, Lincecum had a 4.91 ERA and 11 walks in 11 innings, and he told USA TODAY Sports, "Hitters are looking at me right now as a real nice piece of meat to eat."

As the season unfolded, Lincecum gave the Giants innings, to be sure, but his season could be best described as erratic. Yet he was just one of the many struggling starters contributing to the overall rotation demise as they sank to last place in the NL West.

But he and the team's struggles seemed very distant Saturday. A significant contingent of Giants fans populated Petco Park, and the entire house seemed to be rooting Lincecum on in the late innings, and they witnessed history after Lincecum got Yonder Alonso to fly out to left field to end it.

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