SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs proved again Wednesday that they have at least been good at one thing besides mostly losing the last 50 years: breaking up no-hitters.
John Baker’s single with one out in the seventh against reliever Jeremy Affeldt accounted for one of two hits in Chicago’s 5-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Anthony Rizzo had the other in the eighth.
Baker’s ball cleared the right side of the infield to help the Cubs extend the longest streak in the majors without being no-hit. The last time it happened to them was 1965, when Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game for the Dodgers.
“What’s the cliche? It’s a game of inches,” Baker said. “I think the Chicago Cubs are proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that baseball’s a game of inches.”
Tim Lincecum tossed five no-hit innings before Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled his starter after 96 pitches. Five relievers kept the Cubs scoreless over the final four innings in an unconventional performance that included 10 baserunners – five walks, two hits, two errors and a hit batter.
Lincecum struck out five, walked four and hit a batter in another wild but effective start. George Kontos (1-0) retired four straight before Baker singled off Affeldt.
“We actually hit quite a few balls hard. Didn’t find any holes,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Then the last four innings we weren’t really able to do anything. I thought we put together some pretty good at-bats. We just didn’t generate any runs.”
Hector Sanchez hit a two-run double, and three others drove in a run to help the Giants (34-19) extend the best record in the majors. San Francisco has won six of seven after holding the Cubs scoreless in consecutive games.
Edwin Jackson (3-5) gave up two runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings for the Cubs, who have not won a road series since last September. He struck out nine and walked two.
But for most of a sunny afternoon along the bay, the focus remained on whether San Francisco’s staff would complete an improbable no-hitter.
Lincecum had a 32-pitch first inning that ended on Nate Schierholtz’s sharp lineout to first baseman Buster Posey with runners on second and third. He tossed another 20 in the second and pitched a perfect third.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner hit Schierholtz and overcame an error by shortstop Brandon Crawford on a grounder in the fourth. And after walking Emilio Bonifacio in the fifth, Lincecum got Junior Lake to ground into a double play.
It was the second straight erratic outing for Lincecum. He walked six in six innings in San Francisco’s 6-2 win over Minnesota last Friday.
“He still pitched well enough to win,” Jackson said.
Lincecum said a tiny blister began forming on the tip of his middle finger in the third. He said it’s not serious, but he didn’t want to risker further injury.
And with a 148-pitch no-hitter at San Diego last July already on his resume, he felt no need to lobby Bochy for another inning.
“I think it’s just because I know what our bullpen is capable of,” Lincecum said. “I just wanted to get the win today and put up some good numbers today, so it was good.”
Jean Machi got two outs on three pitches, Juan Gutierrez allowed a single to Rizzo in 1 1-3 scoreless innings and Javier Lopez recorded the final two outs in the ninth.
San Francisco supplied support for the pitchers in the late innings.
Pablo Sandoval and Tyler Colvin drove in a run in the sixth, and Sanchez hit a two-run double to highlight a three-run seventh that gave the Giants a 5-0 lead.
NOTES: The Cubs have Thursday off before beginning a three-game series at Milwaukee on Friday. … Giants RHP Matt Cain, who missed his last start with a strained right hamstring, threw a bullpen session and is on schedule to make his next start Saturday at St. Louis. … RHP Ryan Vogelsong (3-2, 3.20 ERA) starts for the Giants in the opener of a four-game series at St. Louis on Thursday.