Lincecum flirts with no-hitter in win
Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants sure weren't complaining about the humidor Monday night.
''Not at all,'' said Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Coors Field in San Francisco's 8-1 rout of the Colorado Rockies.
Spotted an early eight-run cushion thanks to homers by Pat Burrell, Nate Schierholtz and Freddy Sanchez, Lincecum (2-1) cruised through Colorado's lineup, dominating baseball's best team over the season's first 2 1/2 weeks until Carlos Gonzalez broke up his no-hit bid with a clean single in the seventh.
''I wasn't really thinking about it,'' Lincecum said of his no-hit bid.
His teammates certainly were.
Burrell said he went to manager Bruce Bochy and begged to be taken out, figuring he was a defensive liability in left field late in the game.
''I went in and talked to Bochy and said, 'Listen, I'd hate to be the guy that doesn't get to a ball that somebody else might catch,'' said Burrell, who was replaced by Darren Ford in the middle of the seventh.
Lincecum didn't allow a ball to the outfield until Jonathan Herrera led off the seventh with a fly to deep right. By then, the ball wasn't carrying and it settled into Schierholtz's glove.
Gonzalez followed with the first hit of the night off Lincecum, and he scored on Todd Helton's two-out double.
Lincecum was shooting for the 14th no-hitter in franchise history and the first since Jonathan Sanchez handcuffed the San Diego Padres on July 10, 2009, which snapped a 32-year Giants drought.
The only no-hitter at Coors Field was thrown by Hideo Nomo of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 17, 1996.
Lincecum benefited from some nice defensive plays by second baseman Freddy Sanchez, including a diving stop of Gonzalez's hard grounder in the first on a 2-0 changeup - the exact pitch Gonzalez would be sitting on six innings later.
Lincecum said he had no regrets about the 3-1 changeup that Gonzalez raked to right, however.
''No, that's what I wanted to throw right there,'' he said. ''I felt like I threw the pitch that I wanted and you tip your cap to him. He hit it well.''
Gonzalez was the one complimenting his opponent.
''Well, the guy was dealing today,'' Gonzalez said. ''That's why the guy has two Cy Young Awards. Whenever you have to face a guy like that you want to count on your starting pitcher'' because runs are going to be hard to come by.
The Rockies entered the night with a 12-3 mark and a four-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West, but right-hander Esmil Rogers (2-1) didn't have it, allowing eight runs and six hits over three innings in just the second loss by a Rockies starter this season.
Lincecum allowed one run and three hits over 7 2-3 spectacular innings. He walked three, struck out 10 and allowed just four balls out of the infield, none in the first six innings.
''He's always good, but tonight was some of his best stuff that I've seen,'' Troy Tulowitzki said. ''And then he was getting up there 95 (mph) after CarGo got that hit. It seemed like he amped it up a little bit. He's special.''
Ryan Vogelsong got the final four outs for San Francisco.
This was the first visit to Coors Field by the Giants since they made a stink about the humidor protocol prior to a key series last September - before the Rockies faded from the playoff race and the Giants went on to win their first championship since moving West in 1958.
Last fall, MLB changed the humidor protocol one day after Lincecum was caught on camera uttering expletives after being given a new ball, suggesting it was a ''juiced ball.''
The Rockies insist they hold no grudges. The rivalry is spicy enough without any humidor hyperbole.
''I know a couple of their guys pretty good, including Lincecum,'' Tulowitzki said. ''We think it's pretty comical.''
The Rockies found nothing to laugh about Monday night, when the Giants spotted Lincecum a five-run lead in the first inning as Burrell (his fifth) and Schierholtz (his first) hit back-to-back homers.
Schierholtz followed Burrell's three-run homer with a shot to the upper deck in right.
''After that, it's real tough to respond,'' Tulowitzki said.
Clayton Mortensen, recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs before the game, replaced Rogers to start the fourth and allowed two hits with two walks and a strikeout, saving the Rockies' bullpen.
NOTES: Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez (cut thumb cuticle) comes off the 15-day disabled list to start the second game of the series Tuesday night against Sanchez. ... OF Cody Ross (right calf) might rejoin the Giants on Tuesday from a rehab assignment with Triple-A Fresno.