SAN FRANCISCO While Hunter Pence viewed America from 35,000 feet, the Giants two most important players got good and grounded with each other once more.
No matter what Giants did at the trade deadline, Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey would remain their essence. Their two franchise stars formed a battery once more and it held plenty of charge, as Lincecum pitched the Giants to a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Jeremy Affeldt gave the Giants struggling right-handers a rest in the bullpen, throwing two solid innings to pick up the save and ensure the Giants would break their losing streak at five games.
The Giants didnt exactly take advantage of their two bases-loaded, no-out situations in the second and sixth innings; they scored two runs when the Mets botched a double-play grounder and added another when Marco Scutaro bounced into two.
Starting pitching report
Theres no such thing as an all better now start for Lincecum at this stage of the season, but he turned in his third strong outing over a span of four assignments.
Lincecum (5-11) survived some hard contact early to hold the Mets to a run on six hits. He issued just one walk and struck out seven.
More impressive than his linescore was the way he achieved it. Lincecum didnt back down and kept pumping strikes, and he appeared to have much more Timmy-like finish on his pitches. When he wanted to bury a curveball, he did. When he wanted to throw it to the bottom of the zone for strikes, he did. When he wanted to get a ground ball, he got the Mets to swing over the top of his fading change-up.
The Mets scored a run in the second inning when Scott Hairston singled and Justin Turner roped a two-out double. But Lincecum retired 10 of the next 11 hitters and managed to avoid that early pitfall inning that causes his pitch count to runneth over and saps him for the remainder of the game.
His challenge came late this time. Hairston -- of course -- hit a one-out single and Lincecum missed high while walking Mike Baxter. Turner loaded the bases when his chopper barely stayed fair and third baseman Marco Scutaro, perhaps stunned when it wasnt called foul, couldnt beat Hairston to the bag.
Lincecum got a jam-shot liner from Josh Thole that was an eyelash away from turning into a double play. Second baseman Ryan Theriot flipped to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who stepped on the bag at almost the exact instant Baxter slid back to it.
Lincecum reacted with obvious disappointment, but he did not break focus. With the sellout crowd on its feet, the two-time Cy Young Award winner met the moment. First, he executed to get ahead of pinch hitter David Wright, the most threatening presence in a Mets uniform. Wright didnt bite on Lincecums 1-2 change-up, which splashed in the dirt. But Posey kept the pitch in front of him and Lincecums next one was a thing of beauty a humpback curve that appeared to get sucked into Poseys glove as Wright took it for a called third strike.
Lincecum completed seven innings for the third time in four starts. Before that, hed lasted seven innings in just four of his first 18 starts.
Sergio Romo, who allowed damaging home runs in each of his last two outings, warmed up in the ninth but Bochy didnt go to him. Affeldt retired all six hitters he faced and struck out three of them to continue a sparkling second half.
At the plate
The Giants knew they would have a tough time against right-hander Matt Harvey, who struck out 11 in 5 13 innings while making his major league debut at Arizona last Thursday.
They didnt exactly seize on a scoring opportunity in the second inning, when they loaded the bases with no outs on Poseys single, Marco Scutaros double and a walk to Brandon Belt. Justin Christian, playing because Angel Pagans hand remained too sore, tapped to the mound for a forceout at the plate and Crawford followed with a shrink-wrapped double-play grounder. But Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada threw wildly to first base, allowing the inning to continue as two runs scored.
The Giants had a 2-1 lead gift-wrapped for them, but had trouble adding on.
The double-play grounder was their weapon of choice again in the sixth, after Theriot doubled and Melky Cabrera executed a perfect bunt single that rolled up the third-base line. After Posey walked to load the bases with no outs, a run scored on Scutaros double-play grounder.
The Giants added another run in the eighth in Scutaros two-out single.
Scutaro's turn as the No. 5 hitter was a one-shot deal. Pence arrived at the ballpark in the eighth inning and is expected to make his Giants debut on Wednesday.
Posey took his lumps behind the plate, fouling a ball off his right foot and blocking another with his manly parts. Thats one of the reasons he hadnt caught any of Lincecums previous seven starts.
But the two stars formed a solid pair all night.
The Giants announced 41,774 paid. Those who arrived early had a chance to purchase the rare and limited Hunter Pence No. 2 jersey sure to be worth more someday than a stamp with an upside-down airplane on it. (A special reference for all you philatelists out there.)
The Giants continue their four-game series with the Mets with a Wednesday night game. Right-hander Matt Cain (10-3, 2.80) opposes left-hander Jonathon Niese (2-5, 4.58.) In case you were curious, Hunter Pence is 3-for-21 (.143) with no extra-base hits in his career against Niese.