Tim Lincecum has faced the San Diego Padres four times in just under a year, and his performances have been split down the middle.
Two ordinary wins. Two no-hitters.
Just 11 days after pitching his second no-no against the Padres, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner will try to baffle the Padres again and lead the San Francisco Giants to just their second series win in nearly a month.
By no-hitting San Diego for the second time in under a year on June 25, Lincecum (7-5, 4.06 ERA) has won his last four starts against the Padres - two with a 6.17 ERA and two that were as dominant as he's ever been a part of. He's one of two pitchers in major league history to no-hit the same team twice along with Cleveland's Addie Joss, who accomplished the feat against the Chicago White Sox 104 years ago.
Lincecum, who is 15-6 with a 2.35 ERA in 28 starts against San Diego, followed up the latest dominant effort with another gem, surrendering four hits over eight scoreless innings in Tuesday's 5-0 win over St. Louis. He threw 73 strikes out of 113 pitches in both.
"We threw what we wanted to and things worked out for the best," Lincecum told MLB's official website. "Things were working. Nothing was crazy nasty or anything like that - 93, 94 (mph) - but I was trying to put them in good spots and keep them off balance."
Predictably, no one in the San Diego lineup has been particularly successful against Lincecum, but Chase Headley has homered four times in 49 at-bats while Seth Smith has connected on three in 40.
It could take another dazzling outing to top Jesse Hahn, who after taking his lumps in his big league debut on June 3 has strung together victories in four straight starts. Hahn (4-1, 1.95) has a 0.75 ERA and .157 opponent average with 31 strikeouts in 24 innings over the run. In Monday's 1-0 victory over Cincinnati, the rookie yielded three hits with a personal-best nine strikeouts in five scoreless innings.
"We're watching this kid develop and liking what we're seeing," manager Bud Black said. "We've been impressed by his work so far."
Hahn's previous start came on June 24 in San Francisco, where he won after allowing two runs and four hits with eight strikeouts in six innings.
The Giants (48-39), whose 5-3 win Saturday was their first victory without Lincecum on the mound in their last 12 games, have dropped 18 of 24. Their only series win in that time came with two victories in a three-game set in Arizona from June 20-22.
"We have been in a tough rut here," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Brandon Belt went 1 for 4 with a home run in his second game back from a nearly two-month absence due to a broken thumb. Michael Morse hit his team-leading 14th homer in the ninth to send the game to extras and break a 24-game stretch without leaving the yard.
Hunter Pence has his third 10-game hitting streak of the season, but it includes just a .286 average.
San Francisco lost third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the first inning with a left elbow bruise after he was hit while swinging at a pitch. He is said to be day to day.
For the Padres (39-48), the loss ended a season-best five-game winning streak and was the first time in 13 games they had allowed more than four runs.
Closer Huston Street was partly responsible for that run ending, and along with it went his string of 23 converted save opportunities to start the season.