SAN DIEGO — The Freak is back.
Tim Lincecum tossed aside his recent struggles and pitched his first career no-hitter and the second in the majors in 11 days, a gem saved by a spectacular diving catch by right fielder Hunter Pence in the San Francisco Giants' 9-0 win over last-place San Diego on Saturday night.
Lincecum has won two Cy Young Awards and two World Series rings. Now he has something really remarkable — a no-hitter in which he threw a whopping career-high 148 pitches.
"Right now I think I'm just kind of coming down and don't know where to be emotionally," a calm Lincecum said.
The slightly built right-hander was in control from his first pitch until his last, which settled into left fielder Gregor Blanco's glove and set off a wild celebration in front of a pro-Giants crowd at Petco Park.
Catcher Buster Posey wrapped Lincecum (5-9) in a bear hug and lifted him off the ground. Lincecum was then mobbed by his teammates behind the mound and doused with water.
Blanco, who caught Yonder Alonso's fly ball to end the game, found Lincecum in the mob and handed him the ball.
Lincecum, who witnessed Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter against San Diego in 2009 and Matt Cain's perfect game last year, was given a champagne shower by his teammates in the clubhouse.
"It's pretty surreal for me just to be part of that," Lincecum said. "Obviously I got to see a couple with Jonathan's and Cain's perfect game, but to be in the middle of it is a little different. I think I'm still kind of pinching myself right now."
Lincecum struck out 13. He walked four and hit a batter.
Still, he needed some help to preserve his no-no. Pence caught Alexi Amarista's sinking liner with a full dive to end the eighth. Lincecum pumped his fist as Pence excitedly jumped up and with the ball in his glove. Amarista put his hands to his helmet and pulled it off in disgust.
"That was really special. To be honest with you, I thought that was a hit off the bat by Amarista," Lincecum said. "But Hunter comes flying out of nowhere and makes the Superman catch. That was awesome."
Pence said he "just laid out and reached as far as I could and happened to just get there. I would say the whole game was one of the greatest feelings and greatest things to be a part of."
Said Amarista: "He got to the ball."
Lincecum's 148 pitches were the second most thrown in a no-hitter since at least 1988, according to STATS.
Edwin Jackson needed 149 pitches for his no-no for Arizona in 2010.
Lincecum had 103 going into the seventh and might've saved his shot at history with an 11-pitch inning.
"You don't see a pitcher up over 140 pitches in a no-hitter often," Posey said. "You get fatigued."
Posey noted that Lincecum threw more than 200 pitches all night, including 40 in the bullpen warming up pregame and then eight pitches before each inning.