Lincecum generated most of the whiffs with his changeup, which is increasingly becoming his most devastating pitch."He's one of the shorter guys [5-foot-11] you'll face, but the ball comes out hot," Philadelphia outfielder Jayson Werth said. "It's tough to distinguish the offspeed from the fastball. You really don't see it until late because of his arm speed. He has such great arm speed. He's one of the premier guys in the game." The Giants' minimal offense sufficed for Lincecum and Brian Wilson, who notched his 27th save with a perfect ninth inning. Juan Uribe hit sacrifice flies in the fifth and seventh innings to drive in both runs.
The first was particularly adventuresome, since Uribe hit what was essentially a popup that Matt Stairs caught in shallow right-center field. But Rowand broke from third base, dove around catcher Paul Bako -- who moved to the third-base side of the home-plate dirt to take Stairs' strong, but slightly wide, throw -- and swept the plate with his right hand.Discussing the situation with third-base coach Tim Flannery before Uribe batted may have hastened Rowand's dash. Flannery and Rowand agreed that with Lincecum due to bat after Uribe, trying to score on almost any batted ball was worth the gamble.
"In your mind, you have to play the odds," Flannery said.Rowand again was fortunate after Phillies starter Joe Blanton (7-5) hit him above the left elbow with a seventh-inning pitch. X-rays revealed no fracture for Rowand, who spent 10 games out of the lineup after being hit in the right arm July 20 at Atlanta.
"[When] you continually get hit in spots that affect you, that gets frustrating," Rowand said.Otherwise, the Giants have avoided frustration. They've won seven of their last 10 games, a stretch that features a 5-1 mark on their current homestand that ends Sunday, and they remain tied with Colorado for the NL Wild Card lead. Until now, the Giants have dismissed the Wild Card by saying it's too early to follow those standings. But with August's arrival, the daily packet of statistics issued at each Major League game now includes the Wild Card rundown. The Giants know they've entered a serious phase. "It's something San Francisco probably wanted for the last couple of years," Wilson said. "We're glad we can show them what we're made of and get baseball back on the map over here."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.