07/28/09 2:49 AM ET
Lincecum K's career-high 15 in Giants' win
Ace righty tosses complete-game four-hitter for 11th victory
By Andrew Pentis / MLB.com
In his team's 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at AT&T Park, Lincecum allowed just two unearned runs and whiffed a career-high 15, buoying the 40,008 in attendance to rise after each one. The crowd was so pleased with the two-hour, six-minute performance, they booed uncontrollably over a short ninth-inning delay when the mound needed repairing.
After the field crew added some fresh dirt, Lincecum came out for the ninth, kicked around the rubber a few times and struck out his 14th and 15th for his fourth complete game of the season.
Manager Bruce Bochy joked about Lincecum's landscaping, then explained how his pitcher finished the night so well.
"Every game is a little bit different, and I think he realizes that, as far as stuff and command," Bochy said. "That's what's so impressive about him, his ability to adjust to a lineup or his stuff to that day. But he had everything working today, and that's why he accumulated so many strikeouts."
Diving changeups, falling curveballs and dart-like fastballs -- that's what Lincecum used to become just the third Giants pitcher since 1958 to rack up 15 or more K's in a game. Jason Schmidt retired 16 on strikes in 2006.
"I'll go home, soak up the win, maybe joke about the strikeouts, and hopefully, just get better from here," said Lincecum, who threw 100 pitches through seven innings and 15 more in the final two frames.
In the dugout before the game, former Giants and Pirates great Barry Bonds (in attendance to honor Sue Burns, the late Giants majority owner) told Lincecum, "If you don't give my old team a whooping, I'm going to beat your ..."
Lincecum left the last word out of his little anecdote before adding, "I think he was joking though."
Lincecum came through anyway, limiting Pittsburgh (43-56) to four hits. His performance ended the Giants' two-game skid, started their seven-game homestand with a 'W' and left Pirates batters befuddled.
"All his pitches were unbelievable," said No. 3 hitter Garrett Jones, who went 0-for-4. "He was hitting his spot any time during the count. You have to tip your cap to him. That's how he's been his whole career, but maybe today he had a little extra."
The Pirates' lone rally began after shortstop Edgar Renteria's fielding error to open the sixth. Delwyn Young doubled before a fielder's choice and sacrifice fly manufactured two runs. That was all they got, as Lincecum lowered his ERA to 2.30, and at 11-3, tied him for second in National League wins behind teammate Matt Cain (12-2).
"We don't see him often enough to make [in-game] adjustments," Young said of the Giants ace. "He doesn't have a Cy Young for no reason. He's a tough opponent."
The Giants (53-46) used little time in proving their home-road disparity in offensive output by tagging Paul Maholm (6-5) with four early runs. Maholm allowed eight hits over six innings.
Pablo Sandoval and Bengie Molina both doubled to score the Giants' first run in the opening inning and teammates kicked in to add three in the second frame. The final three runs came on Andres Torres' two-run triple and a Randy Winn single, which bounced off right fielder Jones and appeared to land in the grasp of second baseman Young but was still ruled a base hit.
Add to that Garko, who, according to Bochy, will bat fifth or sixth and take some but not all at-bats away from incumbent first baseman Travis Ishikawa.
"He gives us some power," the manager said. "It's great to acquire a proven hitter like this.
"When you get a bat like this that can knock in runs and hit the ball out of the ballpark, it makes you a better lineup."
Not that he wasn't enjoying Lincecum's lights-out night, but Bochy admitted he was already on his way to sit down with the Giants' brass immediately following the game to decide on a corresponding move to pave the way for Garko's place on the active roster.
Lincecum himself said he didn't see the trade as a necessary one, but rather one that can affect positive change for a team coming off a 3-7 road trip.
"Whether it's the move that we just made that gets us out [of our slump], I [couldn't] care less," Lincecum said. "I just want to win."
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.