Padres' bats have no answer for Lincecum
Giants starter no-hits Padres in penultimate game before break
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres were forced to watch as the Giants rushed from the dugout, and Buster Posey gave his starter, Tim Lincecum, a bear hug that lifted the pitcher into the air in congratulations for throwing the first no-hitter in his career and first in Petco Park history, the Padres' home ballpark.
The Padres are the only franchise in the Majors without a no-hitter and were held without a hit for the eighth time in franchise history Saturday, losing, 9-0. The last time the Padres were no-hit was also against the Giants, against Jonathan Sanchez in July 2009 at AT&T Park.
It is hard to imagine this happening at a worse time for the Padres.
They are scuffling into the All-Star break on the brink of being swept in a four-game series by the Giants and are 3-18 in their last 21 games -- their worst stretch since May 2003.
"The team's pissed," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The team is pissed off, we're not swinging the bats. We're not pitching. We're not playing the way that we can play. There's no doubt about that; we're not getting it done, bottom line."
Lincecum needed 148 pitches to cement his place in the record books -- the second-most pitches in Major League history for a no-hitter, trailing only Edwin Jackson's 149 pitches in 2010.
"I don't think the pitches were a big deal, especially since he's got plenty of time to rest with the All-Star break," second baseman Jedd Gyorko said. "We knew he was going to go after [the no-hitter], and it's just one of those things where we hit a few balls hard at the end there."
A feat like this often comes with help from a pitcher's defense, which Lincecum received when Alexi Amarista was robbed on a diving play by Hunter Pence in the eighth.
"That was really special," Lincecum said. "To be honest with you, I thought that was a hit off the bat. Hunter comes flying out of nowhere and makes a Superman catch. It was hard not to feed off of that."
The Padres could not really muster anything against the Giants right-hander, who had struggled this season and was not pitching at the level that made him a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Lincecum had not won on the road since April 3, his first start of the season, against the Dodgers, and not at all since June 4.
He struck out six straight Padres hitters from the second into the fourth inning, making Carlos Quentin's groundout to third base in the fourth feel like a small victory.
At least until Lincecum struck out the next batter, Yonder Alonso, to end the inning and then strike out Gyorko to start the next, for a stretch of eight strikeouts in nine batters.
"He was mixing his pitches in every situation, made some quality pitches," Alonso said.
Lincecum finished with 13 strikeouts, for his second straight outing with double-digit K's. The Padres' hitters swung and missed 29 times in the game.
"He was throwing three or four pitches for strikes, and when you're able to do that, you keep guys off balanced," Gyorko said. "We had a couple line drives there at the end that were just caught, and you have to give him credit: He pitched a good game."
In the midst of being no-hit, the Padres managed to threaten with runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth inning after two walks.
However, Quentin lined out to shortstop Brandon Crawford, and the strong Giants contingent of the 40,342 fans at Petco Park erupted.
"We hit some balls hard, but we couldn't get anything going; we just couldn't get anything going," Black said. "He pitched a good game. He pitched great, but we're not getting it done, and we got to get it done."
The score got away from the Padres early, too, as the Giants used a pair of two-out hits to get on the board in the first inning. Posey reached on an infield single and scored on a double by Pablo Sandoval.
Posey and Sandoval then opened the fourth with back-to-back doubles. Posey stopped at third but later scored on a groundout by Pence, setting up Brandon Belt to unload his 10th homer of the season, a two-run shot to center field to give the Giants a 4-0 lead.
The Giants tacked on four more in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, Pence roped a triple into center field to clear them, and he was singled home by Belt.
Edinson Volquez (6-8) had to labor through all of it, allowing eight runs in five innings.
"I just want to compete and stay in the game as long as I can, too," Volquez said of facing a pitcher with a no-hitter.
"Everything was kind of up today a little bit, and with two strikes I made some mistakes."
By the time he left the game after the fifth, Volquez had allowed nine hits.