SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Lincecum’s days of dominance may be in the past. That doesn’t mean he can’t dial up flashes of the Freak he once was — especially against the San Diego Padres.
Lincecum pitched his second no-hitter against the Padres in less than a year, allowing only one runner Wednesday and leading the San Francisco Giants to a 4-0 win.
“I’ve always been that guy who will kind of go for the strikeout,” Lincecum said. “I think my first no-hitter I had 13, so I think I was going for those a little bit more often.”
“Today I tried to be a little bit more efficient and take what they were going to give me. They were giving me a lot of groundballs and a lot of pop flies, so I was just going to try to keep attacking the way that I was,” he said.
Lincecum totally shut down the weakest-hitting team in the majors, striking out six and walking one in a 113-pitch outing — 35 fewer than he needed last July 13 against the Padres in his first no-hitter.
Lincecum retired the final 23 batters after walking Chase Headley in the second inning, relying much more on his off-speed stuff than his fastball. Though the Padres hit a few balls hard, San Francisco fielders didn’t need to make any exceptional plays to preserve Lincecum’s gem.
The right-hander with two NL Cy Young Awards became just the second pitcher in major league history to twice no-hit the same team. Hall of Famer Addie Joss did it for Cleveland against the Chicago White Sox with a perfect game in 1908 and a no-hitter in 1910.
“It’s hard enough to do one,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “To do two, that puts you in a little different class. I couldn’t be happier.”
Lincecum (6-5) threw the 16th no-hitter in Giants’ team history. Just one other pitcher has thrown two — Christy Mathewson for the New York Giants more than 100 years ago.
In fact, Lincecum joined Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay as the only pitchers with two Cy Young awards and two no-hitters.
“Just to be in that company allows me a chance to pat myself on the back a little bit,” he said.
Making the performance even sweeter was the fact that Lincecum even got two hits of his own, becoming the first pitcher with two hits in a no-hitter since Rick Wise hit two homers for Philadelphia against Cincinnati on June 23, 1971.
“Regardless of what they did, I think it’s cool I got two hits anyway because up to today I only had one and a pretty poor batting average,” Lincecum said. “I got that thing above .100 and I feel much better about it.”
But Lincecum will always be known for his pitching. He arrived as a shaggy-haired phenom nicknamed the Freak in 2007 for his ability to generate tremendous velocity from his slight frame.
He won NL Cy Young awards in 2008 and ‘09 and helped lead the Giants to their first World Series title in San Francisco the following season.
As age and wear and tear ate away at his velocity, Lincecum was forced to change what kind of pitcher he is. It hasn’t been an easy transformation at times as he posted a losing record the past two seasons as his ERA hovered around 5.00.
He was even relegated to the bullpen when the Giants won it all again in 2012 but was brought back with a $35 million, two-year deal last offseason for moments just like this.
“I think it’s been a battle for him at times to make that transformation to what he is now,” Bochy said. “Sometimes less is more, and that’s what I think if anything, hopefully he learned today.”
Headley walked with one out in the second after falling behind 1-2 in the count. The Padres began the day worst in the majors in batting average, runs and hits.
“He was good. It wasn’t a fluke,” Headley said. “His split and changeup or whatever you want to call it. If it’s not the best in baseball, then it’s one of the best pitches in baseball. Even with the diminished velocity, it’s still a tremendous pitch. He was able to throw it for strikes when he wanted too.”
This was the third no-hitter in the majors this year. Clayton Kershaw did it exactly a week ago and his Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Josh Beckett did it earlier in the season.
The Padres, incidentally, are the only franchise in the big leagues that has never pitched a no-hitter.
Lincecum made quick work of the San Diego hitters in the late innings.
He drew a standing ovation when he batted in the eighth, then got another ovation when he took the mound to begin the ninth.
“His rhythm was going,” third baseman Pablo Sandoval said. “That’s the best he’s pitched. Two no-hitters, that’s pretty impressive.”
Lincecum struck out pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia to open the ninth. Pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal followed with a tapper back to Lincecum, who tossed to first for the out.
Will Venable was up next, and Lincecum retired him on an easy grounder to second base. Lincecum took a few steps toward first when the ball was hit, stopped to watch the play and clapped his hand into his glove when it was over.
Catcher Hector Sanchez soon met Lincecum for an embrace, and the rest of the Giants joined in the celebration.
“It was amazing,” Sanchez said. “Anybody wants to be part of something special like this. That’s a great feeling.”
Buster Posey got four hits, including a double, and drove in two runs.
Ian Kennedy (5-9) allowed four runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the second when Brandon Crawford tripled and Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly.
RAYS 5, PIRATES 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Price struck out 11, becoming the first pitcher in 10 years to fan at least 10 in five straight starts, and Tampa Bay beat Pittsburgh.
Price (6-7) gave up five hits and one walk in 8 1-3 innings, leaving the game after Andrew McCutchen’s home run in the ninth. The last pitcher with five straight starts of 10 strikeouts was Minnesota’s Johan Santana in 2004.
Price also set a franchise record for strikeouts in a month with 54. He went 2-3 in five June starts.
Ben Zobrist’s RBI triple highlighted the Rays’ three-run first inning off Charlie Morton.
Morton (4-9) struck out a career-high 11 in seven innings, giving up four hits.
Kevin Kiermaier drove in two runs for the Rays, who won for the ninth time in 29 games.
ANGELS 6, TWINS 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Garrett Richards pitched four-hit ball into the eighth inning to win his fourth straight decision, and the Angels earned their fifth straight victory.
Erick Aybar got two hits and stole two bases as Los Angeles won for the 14th time in 16 games at Angel Stadium, moving to a season-high 10 games over .500 at 43-33. The Angels are unbeaten on their homestand, matching their longest winning streak of the year.
Oswaldo Arcia homered for the Twins, who have lost seven straight road games for the first time since September 2011. Yohan Pino (0-1) got through just three innings in his second major league appearance.
Richards (8-2) surrendered the third homer of his breakout season, but recovered for his fourth victory in June.
BREWERS 9, NATIONALS 2
MILWAUKEE — Scooter Gennett had a grand slam and five RBIs, Khris Davis added a solo shot, and Milwaukee roughed up ace Stephen Strasburg in a rout of Washington.
Homer-prone starter Marco Estrada (7-4) allowed just two hits — and no homers — and pitched effectively into the seventh for the Brewers, who bounced back a day after falling 4-2 in 16 innings to Washington.
Davis finished with three RBIs.
Strasburg (6-6) was tagged for eight hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. It matched a career-worst outing for Strasburg, who also allowed seven earned runs in a two-inning start against Miami on July 12, 2013.
The Brewers’ bats broke out after scoring just two runs in 25 innings in the first two games of a series between NL division leaders. Milwaukee had 13 hits, even with Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Lucroy all getting a day off.
CARDINALS 9, ROCKIES 6
DENVER — Matt Adams homered and drove in two runs, Matt Holliday had three hits, and St. Louis rallied to beat Colorado.
Drew Stubbs homered, and Justin Morneau had two hits for the Rockies, who finished their homestand 1-5.
The game featured the major league debuts of both starting pitchers. St. Louis’ Marco Gonzales was sharp early before faltering. Colorado’s Yohan Flande also started well before getting hit hard in his last inning.
Pat Neshek (2-0) pitched an inning in relief to earn the win. Trevor Rosenthal got four outs for his 23rd save in 26 chances.
The Cardinals scored twice in the eighth off Adam Ottavino (0-2) on RBI doubles by Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter to take a win away from Flande.
St. Louis added two more runs in the ninth on two of the club’s four sacrifice flies.
YANKEES 5, BLUE JAYS 3
TORONTO — Mark Teixeira hit a two-run home run, Hiroki Kuroda won for the first time in four starts and the New York Yankees beat Toronto to snap a four-game skid.
Kuroda (5-5) won for the first time since May 28, at St. Louis, allowing three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. He gave up a home run to Jose Reyes on his first pitch.
David Robertson got five outs for his 18th save in 20 tries.
Drew Hutchison (5-6) is 0-3 with a 9.22 ERA in three starts against the Yankees this season.
RED SOX 5, MARINERS 4
SEATTLE — David Ortiz hit the 449th home run of his career in the first inning, added a line drive RBI single off the wall in the third, and the Boston Red Sox avoided a sweep in Seattle.
Ortiz connected for a two-run shot off the windows of the cafe in right field at Safeco Field against Hisashi Iwakuma (5-4).
Clay Buchholz (3-4) got the win and Koji Uehara earned his 16th save in 17 tries.
ORIOLES 5, WHITE SOX 4, 12 INNINGS
BALTIMORE — Nelson Cruz hit a tying grand slam in the eighth inning and David Lough scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the 12th, sending the Baltimore Orioles over the Chicago White Sox.
There was a rain delay of more than an hour after the ninth inning ended.
Nick Hundley opened the bottom of the 12th with a walk off Daniel Webb (4-2) and Lough entered as a pinch-runner. Lough took third on a single by Nick Markakis and scored easily when Webb uncorked a pitch that got past catcher Tyler Flowers.
Tommy Hunter (2-1) got the final out in the 12th.
DODGERS 5, ROYALS 4
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wade Davis plunked A.J. Ellis with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning, sending the Los Angeles Dodgers past Kansas City.
Jamey Wright (3-2) threw 2 2-3 scoreless innings. Brian Wilson handled the ninth in place of closer Kenley Jansen for his first save since April 12, 2012.
Davis (5-2) had not allowed a run in 22 1-3 innings spanning his last 20 outings.
INDIANS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 1
PHOENIX — Corey Kluber gave Cleveland a much-needed quality start, pitching seven effective innings to help beat Arizona and end a four-game losing streak.
The Indians ran through their bullpen in a 14-inning game the night before Kluber (7-5) gave them a lift.
Michael Brantley homered and had two RBIs against Chase Anderson (5-3).
ATHLETICS 8, METS 5
NEW YORK — Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run double, slumping Brandon Moss had a two-run homer and the Oakland Athletics jumped all over an ineffective Zack Wheeler and the New York Mets.
Coco Crisp homered and had three hits as the AL West leaders built an eight-run cushion for Brad Mills (1-0), who took a shutout into the seventh inning for his first major league victory in almost two years.
Oakland rebounded from its most lopsided loss of the season to split the two-game interleague series, boosting the best record in baseball to 48-30. The Mets had won three straight.
Sean Doolittle struck out all three hitters in the ninth for his 11th save, extending his scoreless streak to 25 1-3 innings. He has retired 37 of his last 38 batters.
Wheeler (3-8) followed up the best start of his brief career with his worst.
MARLINS 3, PHILLIES 2
PHILADELPHIA — Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run double for Miami, and Henderson Alvarez threw 6 2-3 strong innings.
Alvarez (5-3) allowed two runs — one earned — and seven hits. He is 3-0 with an 0.78 ERA in his last seven starts.
Steve Cishek struck out the side in the ninth for his 18th save in 19 tries.
A.J. Burnett (5-7) gave up three runs and five hits, striking out eight in seven innings.
The Marlins have won two of the first three in the four-game set. They had lost eight of their previous nine games in Philadelphia.
REDS 4, CUBS 1
CHICAGO — Mat Latos pitched seven impressive innings for his first win of the season and Jay Bruce had two run-scoring doubles that led Cincinnati.
With the wind blowing in on a cold summer night, Devin Mesoraco’s five-game homer streak came to an end. The Reds catcher was tied with Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Johnny Bench, George Crowe and Ted Kluszewski for the franchise record.
Latos (1-0) allowed one run and five hits in his third start after beginning the season on the disabled list. Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances.
Edwin Jackson (5-8) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings for Chicago, which has dropped four of five.
BRAVES 4, ASTROS 0
HOUSTON — Justin Upton homered for the second straight game and had three RBIs and Alex Wood pitched seven scoreless innings to help the Atlanta Braves beat Houston Astros.
Shae Simmons and Juan Jaime finished the three-hitter as the Astros were shut out for the 10th time this season.
The Braves had just two hits when Upton launched his 16th homer, a two-run shot in the seventh off Collin McHugh (4-6).
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman left in the eighth after being hit by a pitch on what appeared to be his right elbow. There was no immediate update on his injury.
Wood (6-6) was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his first start since May 4 after 11 relief appearances in his last stint with the Braves. He allowed three hits.