Giants’ Lincecum pitches no-hitter against Padres

SAN DIEGO — Tim Lincecum pitched his first career no-hitter and the second in the majors in 11 days, a gem saved by a spectacular diving catch by right fielder Hunter Pence in the San Francisco Giants’ 9-0 win over the last-place San Diego Padres on Saturday night.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner in a season-long funk was the loser when Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey no-hit the Giants on July 2, threw a whopping 148 pitches.

Lincecum (5-9) was in control from the start Saturday, striking out 13. He walked four and hit a batter.

Still, he needed some help to preserve his no-no. Pence caught Alexi Amarista’s sinking liner with a full dive to end the eighth. Lincecum pumped his fist as Pence jumped up with the ball in his glove. Amarista put his hands to his helmet and pulled it off in disgust.

“I thought for sure it was a hit,” Lincecum said. “You see Hunter flying out of nowhere making the flying grab. That was really impressive a big play for us.”

Pablo Sandoval did his part, too, when he made a nice backhanded play on pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman’s grounder deep behind third base and threw him out for the third out of the seventh.

Lincecum had been struggling coming in, losing his previous four decisions and hadn’t won since June 4 against Toronto. He hadn’t won on the road since April 3 at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then again, he’d gotten only 12 runs of support in his last 10 starts.

“I felt fine out there from the first pitch,” Lincecum said. “Maybe a little sweaty, but other than that, I felt great.”

The pro-Giants crowd gave Lincecum a standing ovation as he headed to the mound for the ninth.

Lincecum, who pitched like The Freak of old, struck out Chase Headley and then retired Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso on fly balls to left.

Catcher Buster Posey wrapped Lincecum in a bear hug and lifted the slight right-hander off the ground. Lincecum was then mobbed by his teammates and doused with water.

Left fielder Gregor Blanco, who caught Alonso’s fly ball to end the game, found Lincecum in the mob and handed him the ball — pitch 148, the second most pitches thrown in a no-hitter since 1988, according to STATS.

Edwin Jackson needed 149 pitches for his no-no for Arizona in 2010.

Lincecum tossed the 15th no-hitter in franchise history and seventh since the Giants moved to San Francisco after the 1957 season. Matt Cain was perfect last June.

The Padres remain the only team without a no-hitter.

While Lincecum dominated the Padres, the Giants jumped all over San Diego’s Edinson Volquez (6-8).

Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval had three hits apiece. Hunter Pence hit a three-run double and finished with four RBIs against Volquez, and then homered off Joe Thatcher leading off the eighth.

Brandon Belt hit a two-run home run an estimated 414 feet into the sandy play area beyond the fence in right-center in the fourth inning.

Volquez allowed eight runs and nine hits in five innings, struck out six and walked one. He threw 107 pitches. NOTES: The four-game series concludes Sunday with a matchup of lefties. Barry Zito, who went to high school in San Diego, is scheduled to start for San Francisco and Eric Stults is scheduled to start for the Padres.

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