SAN FRANCISCO — For one night, anyway, the Giants put together one of those feel-good victories and eased just a little pain from their shipwreck 2013 season.
The Giants scored early and often against one of the National League's hottest pitchers, left-hander Francisco Liriano, and put a solid 6-3 whipping on the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates behind Tim Lincecum on Saturday night at AT&T Park.
These kinds of outcomes have become exceedingly rare this season, particularly with their former ace on the mound. The Giants had gone just 3-14 in Lincecum's previous 17 starts but had scored one run or less in 11 of those games.
They gave him plenty of support in this one, though, and Lincecum (7-13) responded with 5&#65279; 1/3 innings of respectable mound work, striking out eight before running into trouble in the sixth inning.
But the real key for the Giants was getting timely hitting and solid pitching on the same night at AT&T, where they'd lost 15 of their previous 20 not doing one or the other.
A four-run first inning Giants outburst didn't seem terribly likely against Liriano (14-6), who was coming off a pair of starts in which he threw a complete-game four-hitter against St. Louis (one run allowed) and seven innings of shutout ball against San Diego.
But on this rare night, the Giants had their hitting shoes on. They recorded five hits and a walk against Liriano while batting around in the first, matching their season-high opening-inning run tally. Marco Scutaro got things started with a sharp single to center and Joaquin Arias followed with a double into the right field corner just inside the foul line.
Buster Posey, who had three hits in the game, drove home the first run with a broken-bat single between short and third. After Hunter Pence hit a comebacker for the first out, Brett Pill hit a slow roller up the third base line for a hit that brought home Arias and moved Posey to third. Pablo Sandoval's slow grounder to second scored Posey, and Gregor Blanco's opposite field single to left brought home Pill.
Lincecum, meanwhile, was very sharp over the first three innings, allowing just one baserunner — Jose Tabata's leadoff single in the first — and struck out five. He walked the first two hitters to start the fourth, but retired Andrew McCutchen on a fly to right and struck out Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones to end that threat.
The Pirates made it 4-1 in the fifth on catcher Tony Sanchez's first major league homer, but the Giants answered in the bottom half when Hector Sanchez was hit by a pitch, went to second on a Blanco single, was sacrificed to third by Lincecum and scored on a wild pitch by reliever Jared Hughes.
Lincecum's first victory against a team with a winning record since May 12 (against Atlanta) was in the jeopardy in the sixth. After getting the first out, he walked McCutchen and Alvarez doubled into the right-field corner. Manager Bruce Bochy made the call to left-hander Jose Mijares, who surrendered a first-pitch RBI single to Jones, and after going to righty Jean Machi, Sanchez hit another first-pitch single that scored Alvarez and made it 5-3.