Tim Lincecum was in the Giants’ clubhouse “jumping up and down” as pinch-hitter Xavier Nady’s solo homer sailed over the fence in right-center in the ninth inning to tie a game his team would win 7-5 against the San Diego Padres.
“It was a big moment for us, a big moment for him,” Lincecum said after the Giants’ stunning rally on Sunday.
After Nady tied it against Huston Street, Hunter Pence hit a two-run, go-ahead homer, and the Padres failed to answer in the bottom of the inning.
The rally got Lincecum off the hook for what would have been his 16th loss.
His final regular-start behind him, Lincecum will wait to find out how the NL West champion Giants plan to use him in the playoffs.
Coming off a loss to Arizona in which he tied his season high by allowing seven earned runs, Lincecum allowed a season-worst three home runs, including a two-run shot by Logan Forsythe and solo drives by Chase Headley and Yasmani Grandal.
Lincecum might no longer be a lock for the No. 3 spot in the playoff rotation, but manager Bruce Bochy seemed to be more pleased with Lincecum’s outing than the pitcher himself was.
“I thought Timmy had good stuff today. Sure he made a couple mistakes, but it was a much better outing for him,” Bochy said.
Lincecum said he’ll be fine going into the postseason. He knows he won’t be the No. 1 guy as he was in starting all three postseason series during the Giants’ run to the 2010 World Series title.
“I understand with the way things have been going this year that’s not going to be the case in the postseason,” he said. “Obviously they’re going to go with the guys who have been having great years, [Madison] Bumgarner, [Ryan] Vogelsong, [Matt] Cain. Those are going to be the guys. If I can find my way in there and get what I can when I can, that’s really all that matters to me.”
A two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum set career-worsts with a 5.18 ERA and 23 homers allowed this season.
Lincecum allowed five runs — four earned — and four hits in six innings with four strikeouts and two walks Sunday.
“I felt like I threw more quality strikes than I had in the prior outing,” Lincecum said. “That was great, but giving up the three home runs wasn’t pleasing. But to watch us scratch back the way we did was an uplifting moment for all of us.”
The Giants had only three regular starters in their lineup as Bochy gave several players the day off. Among those sitting out was catcher Buster Posey, a strong MVP candidate who leads the race for the NL batting title with a .337 average.