The Giants busted out of their “June Swoon” in a big way on Tuesday night, as they downed the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0.
In his first start since his no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on June 25 (also the last time the Giants won a game), Tim Lincecum (7-5, 4.06) continued his brilliance. He blanked the Cardinals over eight innings, extending his scoreless streak to 17 innings. In all, he threw 113 pitches – 73 strikes – allowing four hits and two walks and striking out six.
Lincecum and Cardinals starter Marco Gonzales were cruising along through the first three innings before things got tricky in the fourth. Jhonny Peralta led off the top of the inning with a double, Matt Adams singled, Yadier Molina was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and it seemed like San Francisco’s troubles would carry over into July. But Lincecum buckled down to strike out Allen Craig and Jon Jay before getting Daniel Descalso to ground out to second to end the threat.
The Giants offense finally capitalized in the bottom of the inning. Hunter Pence led off with a single, and Buster Posey continued his hot streak and drove him in with a double. Pablo Sandoval then crushed a two-run home run into the left-field bleachers, the 100th homer of his career, and San Francisco had a 3-0 lead. Michael Morse added a double of his own to break out of a funk.
It was definitely a new month.
The black and orange offense added some insurance runs in the fifth when Juan Perez led off with a single. Pence hit a ball to Craig that Craig misplayed. Pence hustled into second with a double, and Perez came home. Posey flied out to center, and Pence tagged up and moved to third. Gonzales (0-1, 9.64) walked Sandoval and Morse to load the bases before Hector Sanchez grounded out to bring home a run and make it 5-0. It’s the first time they’ve scored five runs since June 21.
The win couldn’t have come at a better time for San Francisco. Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Giants had gone an MLB-worst 4-14 over their previous 18 games. Their nine-and-a-half game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers continued to fall until finally, with the off-day last night for the Giants and the Dodgers beating Cleveland, LA took a half-game lead in the division. To see their lead taken away perhaps provided motivation for San Francisco, as they played a solid game on the mound, in the field, and at the plate.
They’ll look to start a winning streak on Wednesday night when Ryan Vogelsong (5-4, 3.96) will take on Adam Wainwright (10-4, 2.01).