SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tim Lincecum has talked the past few years about rediscovering the consistency that won him two NL Cy Young Awards and made him one of baseball's best pitchers.
Lincecum's last two outings have brought him awfully close to finding that form again.
The rejuvenated right-hander followed his second career no-hitter with another vintage performance, pitching eight sharp innings to lead the San Francisco Giants past the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0 on Tuesday night.
"We try to go out there and duplicate when things are feeling good," Lincecum said. "We tried to do that today. All my pitches were working when I threw them. They weren't super nasty — they were just located a little better than usual."
Maybe more than a little.
Lincecum (7-5) allowed four hits, struck out six and walked two. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the fourth and stayed out of trouble the rest of the way, helping San Francisco snap a four-game losing streak since his latest gem against San Diego.
Lincecum left after throwing 113 pitches, including 73 for strikes — the exact same line as his no-hitter against the Padres last week — before Jean Machi pitched a drama-free ninth.
"I think the two (starts), if you look at them, it's hard to find a big difference," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's a guy that had command of all his pitches."
Pablo Sandoval hit his 100th career homer to cap a three-run fourth for the Giants, and he got a bottle of bubbly in the clubhouse afterward. San Francisco also scored twice in the fifth to chase Marco Gonzales (0-1) in the left-hander's second career start.
Gonzales gave up five runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. St. Louis has lost three straight and four of five in a tough stretch against the league's hottest pitchers.
The Cardinals faced a pitcher with a no-hitter this season for the third time in five games. After Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw led the Los Angeles Dodgers to victories over St. Louis, Allen Craig singled with one out in the second to put an early end to Lincecum's bid for another no-hitter.