Giants romp behind Lincecum's gem

Giants romp behind Lincecum's gem

SAN FRANCISCO -- Saturday was a virtually perfect day for the Giants, but so much of what distinguished their 8-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies would have gone to waste without Tim Lincecum.

Lincecum (5-1) continued to establish himself as the Giants' stopper. They ended their five-game losing streak and improved their record to 4-0 after defeats when Lincecum starts. Matching his career best with a season-high eight innings, Lincecum surrendered four hits, walked one and struck out eight. His 105-pitch effort was marred only by homers from Ryan Howard in the second inning and Chris Coste in the eighth.

The Giants, who had backed their starting pitchers with an average of two runs per game while they're on the mound, supported Lincecum with 15 hits (including his second-inning RBI single). Contributions were numerous against Phillies starter Jamie Moyer (2-3), who yielded six runs in four innings despite lasting at least six innings in each of his previous 10 outings against San Francisco.

Jose Castillo equaled a personal best for hits by going 4-for-4. Omar Vizquel, who had been sidelined after undergoing arthroscopic left knee surgery, celebrated his return to the lineup with three hits. First baseman Daniel Ortmeier contributed a key two-run, two-out double in the third inning. Combined with homers by Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn, they helped the Giants score in each inning from the second through the sixth.

But, as manager Bruce Bochy said, "it all starts with Timmy and the job he did."

Lincecum, who frequently prompted rousing cheers from the AT&T Park crowd, began generating momentum for the Giants by striking out the side in a 1-2-3 first inning.

"I fed off that the rest of the game," he said.

Lincecum threw four more perfect innings afterward.

"It's kind of boring, because you don't get much action," Vizquel said. "But it's nice to see the ball take off from his hand. This guy seems to throw harder every day. And today, that breaking ball was awesome."

The right-hander drew from his bottomless reserve of deliveries to end a mild jam in the fifth inning, when the Phillies put two runners aboard with nobody out. Although the Giants led 6-1, their inability to hold multiple-run advantages in their previous two games was a fresh memory. But Lincecum struck out Pedro Feliz on three offspeed pitches, fanned Coste and benefited from Ortmeier's diving stop of pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs' grounder.

"When he gets in a crisis-type situation, he keeps his composure and has a knack for turning it up a notch," Bochy said of Lincecum.

Although the Phillies had scored 15 runs in 17 innings in three previous games off Lincecum, who made his Major League debut against them last year on May 6, he has impressed them considerably.

"He has the gift that he doesn't have to have perfect location. He does have good location," Coste said. "When he makes a mistake, you absolutely have to hit it or you're done. That's the way it is with a lot of big league pitchers, but it's magnified with him."

Tempting as it was to magnify Lincecum's role in ending the Giants' losing streak, he remained typically understated in summarizing the afternoon.

"It's good for the team, it's good for me and -- it's just good," he said.

Having endured 20 one- or two-run decisions in their first 36 games, the Giants could bask in a relatively pressure-free performance. "Have we had one this year?" Bochy said.

The absence of tension allowed them to revel not only in Lincecum, but also in Vizquel, the 41-year-old who continued to defy his age with his very first game.

"The energy he plays with is a lot of fun to be around," Winn said.

Vizquel began his 20th Major League season -- more than any Venezuelan, breaking a tie with Dave Concepcion and Andres Galarraga -- by grounding a first-inning single to left field.

"That was a big weight off my shoulders," Vizquel said. He also blooped a single to center in the sixth inning for career hit No. 2,600, but he mistakenly asked for the ball to be kept after his next hit, an eighth-inning single.

The 11-time Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop looked smooth while handling three mostly routine grounders and a popup before reporting that he felt no pain in his knee.

"Let's see how I wake up tomorrow. I think it's going to be OK," Vizquel said.

The Giants got the sense that this day would be more than just OK before the game, when Rowand received his 2007 Gold Glove Award which he earned as a member of the Phillies.

"That was special, to have all those [former] teammates that I played with and the guys in here come up and congratulate me," he said.

Said Winn, "There were a lot of good vibes going into the game, with the Gold Glove ceremony and getting a Gold Glover back. It was a good day."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.