SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The only thing that stopped Tim Lincecum from throwing his second complete game this season was a tiny blister forming on his middle finger.
Nearly a month after his first career no-hitter, Lincecum pitched another gem. The right-hander allowed only one hit over eight scoreless innings to lead the San Francisco Giants past the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 Thursday.
“I think I’m just trying to stay within myself,” Lincecum said, adding that he relied on his overhand curve more than he had in any start this year. “I know I’m not going to throw a 95 mph fastball anymore, so why try to throw it? I guess I got to use what I got and get outs.”
Brandon Belt hit a three-run homer in the first inning off Donovan Hand (0-4). And Marco Scutaro and Brandon Crawford added three hits apiece to give Lincecum more than enough support.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner had been 0-2 in three starts since throwing 148 pitches in his no-hitter at San Diego on July 13.
Lincecum (6-11) permitted just a double to Juan Francisco leading off the third inning. He struck out eight and walked one before getting pulled for a pinch-hitter.
The former ace gave the defending World Series champions another rare reprieve from a frustrating season for the second time in a month by following up a pregame meeting called by manager Bruce Bochy with a vintage performance.
“I think we just kind of knew what’s needed to happen,” Lincecum said. “I think we just kind of need to wake up every day and come to the field knowing there’s a purpose. Even if where we’re sitting in the standings might affect our mentality, we can’t show that on the field. We’ve got to go out there and play every game with passion.”
Khris Davis doubled off reliever Sandy Rosario in the ninth and scored on Jean Segura’s single against Sergio Romo, who recorded the final two outs.
San Francisco had lost four of its previous five games in the latest skid during a summer-long slide from champions to cellar-dwellers in the NL West.
With a postcard-like day along the bay, the Giants showed some heart and hustle from the start. And Lincecum provided the rest to give the club a brief break from a frustration season.
“It kind of reminded us what we’re capable of,” Belt said.
Scutaro singled on the 11th pitch leading off the first and Crawford followed by diving head-first into second for a double. After Pablo Sandoval flied out, Belt hit his 12th home run of the season.
The Giants hadn’t hit a home run at AT&T Park since Buster Posey’s long ball on July 20. And in the second, Scutaro scored on Crawford’s two-out single.
“Overall, well-played game. Just crisp,” Bochy said. “I thought they just had a different look today.”
Hand, who allowed seven hits and four walks in five innings, had not given up more than three runs in any of his previous six starts this season. With Lincecum in complete command, Brewers batters kept him winless.
“He’s a two-time Cy Young Award winner. He’s got it in him and he showed that today,” Hand said. “It stinks it had to be against me.”
About the only highlights from the Brewers came from a pair of sensational catches by Carlos Gomez in center field. He ran to his right, made a dive and tumbled twice on the ground afterward on Belt’s looping liner in the fourth. Gomez also ran down Sandoval’s fly near the 421-foot marker in right-center to end the second.
But one big swing from Belt was all Lincecum needed.
The lanky right-hander, who walked four in his no-hitter against the Padres, only walked one and tossed 108 pitches before getting lifted for pinch-hitter Andres Torres — who popped out — in the bottom of the eighth. Lincecum said all the breaking balls helped the blister form, and Bochy didn’t want to risk it getting worse.
Lincecum said the blister is not an issue moving forward, and it certainly didn’t seem to effect his stuff. He faced just three hitters in six of his eight innings.
Francisco’s liner skipped to the wall in right for a double in the third. Lincecum later got Gomez to lose his helmet striking out on a breaking ball in the seventh, and he received a standing ovation from the announced sellout crowd of 41,219 when he walked off the mound in the eighth.
“You could see it from the first pitch,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He was free with his delivery. We hit one ball hard against him.”
NOTES: Hector Sanchez, who hadn’t played for the Giants since injuring his right shoulder July 8, started behind the plate. He was 0 for 4. ... Giants RF Hunter Pence was caught stealing in the first inning. He had been 17 for 17 this season. ... Brewers LHP Tom Gorzelanny, who missed his turn in the rotation Wednesday because of a sore elbow, will make his next start Saturday at Seattle. ... The Giants open a three-game series against Baltimore on Friday, while the Brewers begin a three-game set at Seattle.