There have been 178 no-hitters in the majors since Johnny Vander Meer threw them in back-to-back starts for Cincinnati in 1938.
Tim Lincecum will make his second attempt to match that elusive feat Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, and the reeling San Francisco Giants hope he can avoid a repeat of his previous try.
Lincecum (6-5, 4.42 ERA) threw his second no-hitter and second against San Diego in less than a year Wednesday. He came within one walk of a perfect game and struck out six in his 113-pitch effort after going 1-2 with a 6.85 ERA in his first four June starts.
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He joined Christy Mathewson as the only two Giants pitchers to throw two no-hitters. Lincecum also became the fourth player with at least two no-hitters and two Cy Young Awards, joining Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay.
"Just to be in that company allows me a chance to pat myself on the back a little bit," Lincecum said.
Lincecum knows first-hand that he can’t dwell on past glory for too long. After his no-hitter against San Diego last July, he was tagged for a career high-tying eight runs and nine hits – including three homers – in 3 2-3 innings in an 11-0 drubbing to visiting Cincinnati.
The Giants (46-36) don’t need a repeat of that performance given their present troubles. San Francisco was swept in four home games to the Reds since Lincecum’s no-hitter and the Giants are in a fight for the NL West lead after squandering a comfortable 9 1/2-game advantage on June 8.
The Giants’ 4-0 loss to the Reds on Sunday was their 15th in 19 games and 12th in their last 14 at AT&T Park. They matched a season low with three hits in that defeat and have batted .181 while being outscored 33-12 in their last seven games.
San Francisco could get a boost if Angel Pagan, batting .307, and Brandon Belt, nine homers in 35 games, can return from the disabled list sometime this week, as expected.
"We can’t let these two weeks, whatever it’s been, define who we are. We got to keep remembering how good we were and it can happen again," manager Bruce Bochy told MLB’s official website. "This offense will come around. We’ll get a full deck here pretty soon, and that’s going to help."
St. Louis (44-39) dropped three of four at Dodger Stadium over the weekend, plating one run in the defeats. The Cardinals hit .188 in the series and were stuck out 13 times by Clayton Kershaw in Sunday’s 6-0 loss.
"To me, that’s what they should be begging for every day, these opportunities to come and match up against whoever the name is on the other side," manager Mike Matheny said. "That’s what our guys should be waiting for, an opportunity to square up against them."
Lincecum is 0-2 with a 7.16 ERA in his last three starts against the Cardinals, last facing them in a Game 4 loss in the 2012 NL championship series. He was 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his first five matchups.
St. Louis will send out Marco Gonzales (0-0, 9.00) for his second career start. He gave up five runs in five innings Wednesday in Colorado and avoided the loss when the Cardinals rallied for a 9-6 victory.
San Francisco took three of four in St. Louis in the only other matchup this season May 29-June 1.