SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants enjoyed a remarkable Tuesday. They got Hunter Pence in the morning and Tim Lincecum in the evening.San Francisco still had a ballgame to play after acquiring Pence, the right fielder who's expected to stimulate the offense. Energized partly by Pence's impending arrival from the Phillies and largely by Lincecum's regained excellence, the Giants ended their season-high five-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Mets. Lincecum felt as thrilled as any of the Giants by Pence's addition to the lineup.
"There's a little bit of anticipated excitement, knowing that he's going to be coming here at any given time," said Lincecum, whose agent, Rick Thurman, also represents Pence.Since Pence didn't report in time to play, it was up to Lincecum (5-11) to thrill the 41,774 patrons filling AT&T Park. That he did, improving to 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break by lasting seven innings. Lincecum struck out seven Mets, none more important than David Wright to end the seventh inning with the bases loaded and San Francisco clinging to a 3-1 lead. Wright, New York's All-Star third baseman, received a planned day off and pinch-hit against Lincecum with the outcome in the balance. Lincecum threw Wright three consecutive fastballs to forge ahead on the count, 1-2. That brought the crowd to its feet in what was true "anticipated excitement," to borrow Lincecum's words. Wright worked the count to 2-2 before Lincecum flipped a 78-mph curveball that Wright took for strike three. The audience's enthusiasm inspired Lincecum.
"The crowd gave me a little added edge there when they were on their feet," he said. "They were just loud and helped me dig deep and make better pitches to Wright."Explaining his selection of the curveball, Lincecum said, "I knew I wanted to go to it just because I hadn't used it all that much today. It's one of those 'freeze' pitches, especially when a hitter's been sitting the whole game." Mets manager Terry Collins summarized Lincecum's performance succinctly.
"We swung the bats good against him early," Collins said. "We hit 'em at some guys, but Tim knows what he's doing. He pitched very well. I thought he moved the ball around. Cripes, the curveball he threw David, he didn't throw one of those all night long. He saved it for David. It's a great challenge when you go against a guy as good as he is. I know he's had a down year, but that doesn't mean he's done."Catcher Buster Posey confirmed the effectiveness of Lincecum's curve, which bisected home plate.
"It was down in the zone, and I think what set it up was he threw some quality pitches inside to start the at-bat."Lincecum and Posey, who have worked infrequently together this season, dispelled the notion that theirs is a flawed collaboration.
"I guess I can stop answering that question of whether [Posey's] going to catch him or not," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Said Lincecum, "Buster and I had a good connection going there and an understanding of what we wanted to do with the hitters. We just stuck with that and tried to stay aggressive."
Lincecum lapsed only in the second inning, when Scott Hairston lined a one-out single and scored on Justin Turner's two-out double.Interrupting the slump that the bullpen endured during San Francisco's losing streak, Jeremy Affeldt recorded his second save of the season by striking out three in two perfect innings. For the Giants, facing rookie right-hander Matt Harvey was akin to confronting a younger Lincecum -- hard-throwing and effectively wild. San Francisco mustered barely enough offense to support the genuine Lincecum. A little luck helped the Giants score twice against Harvey (1-1) in the second inning. Posey delivered a leadoff single that center fielder Jordany Valdespin broke late on and barely missed catching. Marco Scutaro's ground-ball double past third base and Brandon Belt's walk loaded the bases with nobody out. Harvey turned Justin Christian's comebacker into a forceout at home and appeared to have escaped when Brandon Crawford hit a potential double-play grounder to second base. But shortstop Ruben Tejada's relay to first base veered high and wide, enabling Scutaro and Belt to score. Scutaro was at the plate when the Giants added their final two runs. He grounded into a bases-loaded double play in the sixth against Harvey and lashed a two-out RBI single off ex-Giant Ramon Ramirez in the eighth.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.