Homer Bailey’s last start against the San Francisco Giants ended with his Cincinnati Reds celebrating the second no-hitter of his career and a victory over Tim Lincecum.
The right-handers will meet again Tuesday night in Cincinnati to begin a three-game series, and it’s Lincecum who has most recently displayed unhittable stuff.
Lincecum (4-3, 4.18 ERA), who followed Bailey with a no-hitter 11 days later July 13, made it through five innings without issuing a hit in Wednesday’s 5-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. He walked four and didn’t get the decision, getting removed with the no-hitter intact after throwing 96 pitches and developing a blister.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner has gone 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA and 26 strikeouts in his last four starts, though his control has been poor with 17 walks in 24 2-3 innings.
Heading into his next start, he’s less concerned with the blister than the strike zone.
"The blister is something I can’t control, but my pitch count is something I can," Lincecum told the team’s official website.
While he’s gotten away with it in recent outings, he hasn’t been as fortunate against the Reds with a 0-3 record and 8.65 ERA in five starts. After watching Bailey’s no-hitter July 2 in Cincinnati, Lincecum lost a third straight start against the Reds on July 22, allowing eight runs in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-0 loss.
After Sunday’s 8-0 victory in St. Louis, the MLB-leading Giants (37-20) have won five of six thanks in part to the rotation posting a 1.17 ERA.
San Francisco’s offense has also excelled, as the club scored at least five runs for the fourth time in five games. The Giants are third in the NL with 250 runs.
Pablo Sandoval extended his hitting streak to 12 on Sunday while Buster Posey went 3 for 5 after suffering through a 5-for-45 stretch in his final 12 games in May.
Since last homering May 3, Posey has one extra-base hit in 19 contests. He had missed three games with tightness in his lower back before collecting three singles.
"I feel pretty good," Posey said. "Hopefully, it is something I can manage."
San Francisco was without Michael Morse after he fouled a ball off his left foot in batting practice, but he’s expected back in the lineup against the Reds (26-29).
Cincinnati is after a season-best four-game winning streak and has won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Giants at Great American Ball Park.
Cincinnati’s pitching has also been strong lately. Including Bailey’s last start, the Reds have won four of five with a 2.25 ERA.
That stretch began Wednesday with Bailey (5-3, 5.04) allowing two runs in seven innings of a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bailey has gone 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA in six starts against the Giants. The no-hitter included one walk and nine strikeouts after he posted a 6.56 ERA in his previous four starts in the series.
Posey is 0 for 8 against Bailey, while Sandoval is 3 for 14 and Hunter Pence 2 for 14. Pence, though, is 10 for his last 16 against Cincinnati.
The Reds won the final three games of a four-game set in Arizona, taking Sunday’s contest by a 4-3 score. The run has followed a four-game losing streak that saw the Reds dip to a season-worst six games under .500.
"You have to show a little gusto, and I think we’ve been doing that," third baseman Todd Frazier said after hitting his 10th home run. "The energy is there, the fun is starting to come back. We’re just happy we’re playing good ball right now."
Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton was out of the lineup Sunday with a sore right elbow, but the center fielder expects to return to the lineup against the Giants.
Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco is hitting .462 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 26 career at-bats against San Francisco.