SAN FRANCISCO -- With his whirling delivery, whipping hair and occasional mustache, Tim Lincecum may be the most distinctive star in Giants history. Now he stands alone in the franchise's record book.
Lincecum no-hit the San Diego Padres for the second time in less than a year, becoming the first player since the Giants moved to San Francisco era to throw multiple no-hitters. Nearly a year after his historic night at Petco Park, Lincecum stymied the Padres in a 4-0 win in front of a sellout crowd at AT&T Park.
In his first no-hitter, last July 13, Lincecum threw an astounding 148 pitches to seal the deal. On Wednesday, he needed just 113.
The no-hitter was the 16th by a Giants pitcher. Hall-of-Famer Christy Mathewson (1901, 1905) is the only other pitcher in the franchise's long history to have done it twice.
Lincecum had little trouble keeping the ball away from the barrels of Padres' bats in the early innings. He struck out two in the first inning and five in the first six innings. The lone blemish during that time was a walk of Chase Headley in the second inning.
By the end of the sixth, everyone at AT&T Park began to acknowledge what was going on. Lincecum received a standing ovation when he walked off the mound after six innings, and teammates began to move further and further away from his spot in the dugout. As the Giants rallied in the bottom of the sixth, Lincecum stretched by grabbing the roof of the dugout and pulling himself up.
Manager Bruce Bochy always has one eye on history, and he acknowledged after Madison Bumgarner's brilliant start Sunday that he had briefly considered the possibility of Bumgarner throwing a no-hitter. With the Giants holding a 2-0 lead, Bochy made an important defensive switch in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Morse, a subpar defender in left field, doubled and was immediately replaced by pinch-runner Juan Perez, an outstanding outfielder.
The Padres entered the day with a .216 team average, far and away the lowest in baseball. Everth Cabrera led off the seventh with a grounder to first and Seth Smith lined out to center. Carlos Quentin grounded out to first on Lincecum's 87th pitch of the day. When he no-hit the Padres a year ago, Lincecum needed 114 pitches to get through the first seven innings.
To put a cherry on top of his historic feat, Lincecum picked up a pair of hits Wednesday: an infield single in the third and liner to left in the seventh. He had one hit in his first 15 starts of the season.
When the Padres made a pitching change with Lincecum on second in the seventh, he ran to the dugout, fist-bumping reliever Juan Gutierrez as he walked down the steps.
As he ran back to his base, Lincecum -- apparently not worried about baseball's long-running jinx rules -- stopped to speak to third base coach Tim Flannery. Lincecum and Hunter Pence scored on Buster Posey's double off the center field wall, giving the Giants a 4-0 lead, and Lincecum started chatting up teammates in the dugout.
Lincecum stuck with his routine, wiping away the pressure of the moment. He took the mound for the eighth and bent down as he always does, re-tying his shoes before getting Heaadley to ground out to first. Tommy Medica popped up to first and Alexi Amarista lined out to deep center. After the final out of the eighth, Lincecum softly pounded his glove before walking back to the dugout to a standing ovation.
With the fog rolling in on a cold afternoon, Lincecum and 24-year-old Hector Sanchez, Lincecum's personal catcher, took the field together for the top of the ninth. Lincecum struck out pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia and then got pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal to ground out to the mound.
On Lincecum's final pitch, Will Venable grounded out to rookie Joe Panik, who was making his fourth career start.
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