Padres starter Anthony Bass was perfect for almost two complete turns through the Giants’ lineup, but Tim Lincecum turned in his best start of the season and San Francisco rallied for a 2-1 win on Brandon Belt’s RBI double in the seventh inning.
Starting pitching report: After giving up first-inning runs in his first three starts, Lincecum had his second straight scoreless opening frame Saturday against the Padres. A leadoff walk and some sloppy defense got Lincecum in trouble in the second, forcing him to throw 18 pitches, but he kept the Padres off the board.
The Padres got to Lincecum in the third inning, though, as a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Nick Hundley plated the game’s first run. Lincecum hurt himself with two walks in the inning, but the run was unearned due to a Brandon Belt throwing error.
Lincecum settled down after the third, putting together five straight scoreless innings, and finished with his best line of the young season: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. The Giants’ ace threw a season-high 121 pitches, 75 of which were strikes.
Bullpen report: Santiago Casilla started off the ninth with a fielding error of a bunt, but settled down to put down the next three batters and earn his third save since taking over for injured closer Brian Wilson.
At the plate: Padres starter Anthony Bass was literally unhittable for 5 2/3 innings. But it was none other than Tim Lincecum that broke up the perfect game with an infield single. But Lincecum was stranded when Angel Pagan struck out to end the sixth inning.
After flailing at Bass’ off-speed stuff and failing to work any deep counts, the Giants finally put together a rally in the seventh inning. Melky Cabrera hit a leadoff double off the centerfield wall, but Pablo Sandoval (first-pitch fly out) and Buster Posey (strikeout) extended the Giants’ woes with runners in scoring position. Nate Schierholtz hit a sharp ground ball to second baseman Orlando Hudson’s left that looked like it would end the inning. But Hudson, after his momentum forced him to spin around, threw wide of first base and pulled Yonder Alonso off the bag. Brandon Belt followed with an opposite field liner that rolled all the way to the wall to score both Cabrera and Schierholtz and give the Giants a 2-1 lead.
Pablo Sandoval went 0-for-4 to end his franchise record hit streak to start a season at 21 games. But Sandoval can take solace in the fact that he is in rare company with Willie Mays and Willie McCovey as the only San Francisco-era players with two separate hit streaks of 20 or more games.
Sandoval wasn’t the only hitless Giant. Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Emmanuel Burriss all went 0-for-3.
In the field: The Giants came into Saturday’s game with 23 errors in 20 games, one behind the Padres for the Major League lead. Emmanuel Burriss, pressing to make a double play in the second inning, booted a ground ball that was initially ruled an error, but later changed by the official scorer. However, the Giants quickly got that 24th error back when Brandon Belt drilled Will Venable in the basepath trying to start a 3-6-1 double play in the third inning.
In a rare positive fielding note, Melky Cabrera single-handedly saved Tim Lincecum from a big inning in the fourth. First, he ran down a ball in foul territory and stumbled on the bullpen mound while making the catch. Cameron Maybin then ripped a ball into the left-centerfield gap that Cabrera caught on the run. Finally, Cabrera ended the inning by reaching over his head to snag a shot off the bat of Padres shortstop Andy Parrino with his back nearly to the wall.
On the bases: After hitting the go-ahead double, Brandon Belt attempted to take an extra base when first baseman Yonder Alonso bobbled Brandon Crawford’s sharp grounder. But Alonso recovered and threw home to nail Belt by five steps to keep the Giants’ lead at 2-1.
Neither team attempted a steal in the game.
Attendance: The Giants announced their 92nd consecutive sellout with a crowd of 42,375 on hand for Tim Lincecum’s second home start of the season.
Up next: Madison Bumgarner (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will take the mound for the Giants in the series finale against the Padres, who will start Clayton Richard (1-2, 5.11 ERA). After Sunday’s game, the Giants get a day off before opening a three-game series with the new-look (in logo and roster) Miami Marlins on Tuesday at AT&T Park.