Tim Lincecum doesn’t pitch like the two-time Cy Young award winner from five years ago. He’s just beginning to get similar results.
The right-hander struggled after winning the honor in 2008 and 2009, but a retooling of his game has begun to pay off and has the San Francisco Giants thinking about the Lincecum of old.
After throwing a no-hitter against San Diego 11 days ago, Lincecum took a shutout into the seventh inning Sunday to lead the Giants to a 5-3 win over the Padres.
Lincecum (8-5) extended his scoreless streak to 23 1-3 innings before Brooks Conrad hit a solo homer in the seventh to knock him out of the game.
The streak started with his second career no-hitter against San Diego on June 25. Lincecum followed that with eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over St. Louis on Tuesday.
Although this is not the overpowering Lincecum who won the Cy Young in consecutive years, the results are impressive.
“I’m not going to overpower teams with my stuff,” Lincecum said. “I’m just going to have to mix my pitches and locations. I’m doing a good job of that. I’m not missing in big spots with pitches.”
He allowed one run on three hits, walked four and struck out six. Lincecum has won all three starts this season against San Diego and improved his mark against the Padres to 16-6 in 29 career starts.
Lincecum threw his first no-hitter at San Diego on July 13, 2013.
“Timmy’s just been on a good roll,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “How poised he’s been, how easy his delivery has been.”
The Giants have been down this road before with Lincecum since he began struggling after his last Cy Young season and lacked the consistency that had marked the early part of his career.
Bochy thinks this recent stretch may last.
“He’s reinvented himself,” Bochy said. “I think he has a better idea of what he wants to do as far as pitching. He’s become more of a pitcher. It was pure stuff early on in his career. He’s gotten more cerebral with the pitching side of it.”
Lincecum also believes he may be able to sustain his most recent success as compared to other stretches when it didn’t last.
“It’s just a feeling I have right now,” he said. “I look for consistency and this is about as consistent as I have been in the last few years. Hopefully, this is the start of something good.”
The Giants, who had dropped 18 of 22 games after they lost the opener Friday, won two straight to win only their second series in nearly a month.
Brandon Belt drove in two runs for San Francisco and Hunter Pence had three hits, extending his season-best hitting streak to 11 games, and scored three runs.
Rookie Joe Panik and Michael Morse each had an RBI.
Three relievers combined with Lincecum on a four-hitter. Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth for his third save in six chances.
The Padres did not get their first hit off Lincecum until there were two outs in the fourth.
Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer, his seventh, off former closer Sergio Romo in the eighth inning to cut the Giants’ lead to 5-3.
Rookie Jessie Hahn (4-2) lost his four-start winning streak, allowing three runs on five hits over seven innings in his sixth major league start. The left-hander struck out five and walked two.
“In the early innings, they were sitting on my curveball, so I had to make some adjustments,” Hahn said.
Hahn retired 11 straight batters after he allowed Morse’s RBI single to fall behind 3-0 in the third.
“The second half of his outing was outstanding,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “I was really impressed with how Jesse hung in there.”
Belt singled in a run in the first and had a sacrifice fly in San Francisco’s two-run eighth.
NOTES: Lincecum’s career best for scoreless innings is 29 in 2009. … Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval, who left Saturday night’s game with a left elbow bruise after he was hit while swinging at a pitch, did not play. … The Giants’ 5-3 win Saturday night in 10 innings was just the club’s third victory since moving to San Francisco in 1958 in which the team won a game with a game-tying homer in the ninth inning and a game-winning home run in the 10th, according to information provided to the Giants by the Elias Sports Bureau. … Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (5-5, 3.86 ERA) is scheduled to face A’s RHP Jesse Chavez (6-5, 3.23) in the opener of a three-game series at Oakland on Monday. … The Padres travel to Colorado with RHP Ian Kennedy (6-9, 3.87) going against Rockies LHP Tyler Matzek (1-2, 4.25) in the opener of a three-game set.
Updated July 6, 2014