SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum had reached 127 pitches through eight innings and would gladly have gone back out for the ninth if only manager Bruce Bochy had let him.
The San Francisco Giants ace still did more than his part in one of the team's biggest games yet of 2009.Lincecum struck out eight in eight innings to end a four-start winless stretch, Pablo Sandoval homered and the Giants gained ground on the wild-card leading Colorado Rockies with a 2-0 victory Friday night.
• Tim Lincecum threw a season-high 127 pitches in eight innings for his 13th win.
• The Giants trimmed the Rockies' wild-card lead to two games with their MLB-leading 17th shutout of the season.
• It is the sixth time that Lincecum has pitched at least eight scoreless innings. No other pitcher has done so more than three times.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"We're coming down the stretch here to the last month," Lincecum said. "These are really big games. We've got to buckle down."The Giants pulled within two games of the Rockies in the wild card and six of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost at Cincinnati.This win certainly provided a boost for San Francisco four days after the Rockies rallied for a 6-4, 14-inning win Monday night on Ryan Spilborghs' game-ending grand slam after the Giants had scored three in the top half. They lost the final three of their four-game series at Coors Field but led in all of the games.Sandoval hit a solo home run in the fifth to break up a scoreless game, clobbering an 0-2 curveball for his 20th homer. He was back in the lineup after missing three straight starts, two with tightness in his right calf and then Thursday's 11-0 loss to Arizona with the flu."I don't know how he does it -- he makes good pitches go far," Lincecum said of the slugger nickamed Kung Fu Panda.Lincecum (13-4) prevailed in a rematch of last Sunday's matchup in which he lost to Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (12-10). Lincecum, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, was sharp from the start this time, earning his first victory in five starts since beating Philadelphia on Aug. 1."Uh, it's the unlucky 13, right?" he said of finally getting his 13th win.Lincecum allowed four hits and walked three. Brian Wilson finished the Giants' majors-leading 17th shutout for his 31st save.Eugenio Velez drove in a run for San Francisco with a single in the sixth.Jimenez had his career-best winning streak snapped at six with his first loss in nine outings since July 10."I wish I could create a way where we could win this game but when you get no runs you don't have a chance to win," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Because of the job Jimenez did, pitching and fielding his position, we were involved all night long."Todd Helton was the lone Colorado player with more than one hit in the Rockies' third straight defeat after dropping the last two in a three-game series with the Dodgers. They hadn't lost three straight since July 27-30 against the Mets."When you're facing one of the best in the game you have to find a way to scrap a couple of hits together," Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta said.The Giants squandered early scoring chances in the first and second, stranding nine runners in all, but Lincecum hung tough until Sandoval's big hit provided a spark. Lincecum didn't let it faze him that the ballpark radar gun wasn't working so he had no way to gauge his velocity."Timmy showed what he's about. He's a guy you want on the mound in a game like this," Bochy said. "He knew how big this game was."Giants catcher Bengie Molina missed his fourth straight game with a tight right quadriceps, ending a 44-game stretch in which he had caught Lincecum -- the longest such active streak by a pitcher-catcher tandem in the majors.
Lincecum's previous high for pitches this year was 123 on April 24 at Arizona. ... Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez hurt his left thumb Thursday diving for a ball and already had stitches in his palm from a separate injury. He was available to pinch run but not to hit. Tracy said Gonzalez had some bleeding that went into the joint and that caused him to lose mobility and feeling in the thumb and that scared Gonzalez. ... San Francisco will honor former 2B Jeff Kent, the 2000 NL MVP and a five-time All-Star, Saturday with a commemorative plaque on the Giants' Wall of Fame. Kent, who retired after last season following four years with the Dodgers, played for the Giants from 1997 through their World Series season in 2002. "If they still hate me for being a Dodger, I hope they do. That's being a good Giants fans," Kent said. ... It was unseasonably warm for a summer night in the Bay Area: 75 degrees at first pitch.