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SF@SD: Lincecum fans 13 Padres over seven frames

SAN DIEGO -- The National League West standings won't say so, but the Giants' pair of victories on their two-city season-opening road trip seemed to eclipse their four defeats.

They fell short in each of their losses by two runs or fewer, maintaining their typical competitiveness. Meanwhile, the Giants looked worthy of their status as reigning World Series champions in both of their wins, including Wednesday's 8-4 decision over the Padres.

The game wasn't that close.

Rusty Giants closer Brian Wilson, who made his season debut, was charged with three runs in the ninth inning. The afternoon belonged to Tim Lincecum, who was at his dominant best, and the offense, which sustained rare efficiency against the Padres. San Francisco's run total was their highest against San Diego since a nine-run splurge on Sept. 7, 2009. It also matched the most the club has scored at PETCO Park since Sept. 14, 2008.

The triumph enabled the Giants to generate some momentum as they approach a weekend dedicated to their recent past. The banner commemorating their 2010 World Series title will be hoisted before Friday's home opener against St. Louis, one day before the Giants receive their long-awaited championship rings.

"I think it's going to be a lot more fun for everybody, going back on the plane with a better mentality," Lincecum said.

He should know, having personally improved his team's mindset.

Lincecum (1-1) allowed a mere three hits and struck out 13 in seven sparkling innings. The right-hander established himself immediately by striking out the first four hitters he faced and six of the first seven en route to his 27th career double-digit strikeout game. That tied Jason Schmidt for second-most by a Giants pitcher since 1900, only one behind franchise leader Christy Mathewson.

Lincecum's walk total (zero) was just as impressive as his baker's dozen of strikeouts.

"He wasn't going to beat himself today," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Lincecum also continued his career-long excellence against the Padres. His ledger in 14 career starts includes a 6-3 record, a .209 opponents' batting average, 113 strikeouts in 93 1/3 innings and a 2.03 ERA, his third-lowest against any team. This not only marked the fourth time Lincecum achieved a double-digit strikeout total against San Diego -- all coming at PETCO Park -- but it also matched the most strikeouts ever amassed by a visiting pitcher at that ballpark. Arizona's Brandon Webb (April 18, 2007) and Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez (May 3, '10) also fanned 13.

"I've said to you guys time and time again, it's just having good rhythm," said Lincecum, who's 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA in eight starts at PETCO. "Sometimes I get out of that, and that's when I fall into trouble. But everything was working right. I used every one of my pitches, so that was good."

"He had a good, live fastball, a good slider, a good splitter and mixed in a couple of curves," Black said. "He had all of his weapons today."

Lincecum's fastball was especially effective.

"I don't think I've seen him hit 95, 96 [mph] since I've been here, and he was hitting that all day," Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said.

Catcher Buster Posey pointed out that the cutting action on Lincecum's fastball was just as essential as his velocity.

"This is probably as electric as his fastball has been all spring and into the season," Posey said.

Lincecum's lone lapse was Nick Hundley's third-inning home run, which landed in the second deck in left field.

Said Bochy with amusement, "He came back and said, 'He got all of that one, didn't he?' It made him focus that much more."

The Giants backed Lincecum with a wealth of offense that was missing through much of their 2-4 trip -- which actually represented an improvement over previous April swings through Los Angeles and San Diego (0-6 in 2009, 1-5 last year).

The 3-4-5 spots in San Francisco's batting order combined to go 9-for-15 with eight RBIs -- or, if you prefer, 3-for-5 efforts apiece by Huff, Posey and Pablo Sandoval.

Posey, who had zero extra-base hits and one RBI as Wednesday dawned, lined a two-run homer in the first inning and finished with four RBIs. He had been weakened by a cold, which he refused to cite as an excuse.

"I still have a little snot coming out when I don't want to," Posey said, "but for the most part, I'm feeling better."

Huff, who entered the game batting .211, drove in three runs. Sandoval contributed an RBI single to the Giants' four-run sixth inning. Rookie first baseman Brandon Belt singled twice to end an 0-for-13 skid.

Echoing last Saturday's 10-0 victory at Los Angeles, when they jumped far ahead and stayed there, the Giants scored three first-inning runs as Freddy Sanchez tripled, Huff doubled and Posey reached the left-field seats. With Sandoval's subsequent single, San Francisco hit for the cycle in a span of four batters against Padres starter Tim Stauffer.

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