Tim Lincecum tossed a no-hitter last month, and a change in approach made his latest performance nearly as impressive.
He hasn't come close to being that effective against the Washington Nationals in recent years.
Lincecum attempts to turn in another strong outing to help the San Francisco Giants avoid a seventh straight loss in the nation's capital on Wednesday night.
Lincecum (6-11, 4.18 ERA) threw his first career no-hitter in a 9-0 win at San Diego on July 13, but he followed that up nine days later with his shortest outing of the season. He lasted just 3 2-3 innings, surrendering eight runs in an 11-0 loss to Cincinnati.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner has been outstanding in three games since, compiling a 1.23 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 22 innings.
Lincecum was superb again Thursday, allowing only a third-inning single while going eight scoreless in a 4-1 win over Milwaukee.
"I think I'm just trying to stay within myself," Lincecum said, adding that he relied on his overhand curve more than he had in any start this year. "I know I'm not going to throw a 95 mph fastball anymore, so why try to throw it? I guess I got to use what I got and get outs."
The right-hander will now try to maintain his impressive stretch by beating the Nationals (58-60) for the first time since June 6, 2008. He's 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA over his last five starts against them.
The Giants (52-66) have dropped six in a row in Washington, including Tuesday's 4-2 defeat in the opener of this three-game series. They stranded 12 runners and went 1 for 9 with men in scoring position.
Buster Posey is hitting .164 with two RBIs in 18 games, and his season average has plummeted 24 points to .300. That may not change in Washington since the All-Star catcher is 2 for 17 there over his last five visits.
The Nationals are looking to match a season high with their fifth straight victory, and they're hitting .341 while outscoring opponents 27-9 during this run.
Even though Washington, which is 8 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the NL's second wild-card spot, is playing better, frustration has been apparent in recent weeks. Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez were seen in a verbal altercation after the first inning Tuesday, as Werth was angry with Gonzalez for being late covering first base on a ground out.
"Just a little camaraderie going on," manager Davey Johnson said. "Jayson sometimes can get a little vocal."
Gonzalez said "it stays between me and Werth," while Werth refused to comment.
Jordan Zimmermann (13-6, 3.10) will take the mound for the Nationals looking to bounce back after going 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his first four starts since the All-Star break. That includes a 9.95 ERA in three home games.
The right-hander was pulled after 88 pitches in four innings at home last Wednesday, giving up two runs and seven hits while not getting a decision in a 6-3 loss to Atlanta.
Zimmermann is 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA over his last four starts against the Giants.
Bryce Harper may be back after he was held out of the starting lineup Tuesday with the flu, though he later pinch hit.
Harper is 1 for 6 versus Lincecum.