SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum pitched scoreless ball. Cody Ross provided the late dramatics. The Giants celebrated a victory in thrilling fashion.
The World Series champions are at it again.
Ross hit a game-ending RBI single in the ninth inning, Lincecum pitched another gem and the San Francisco Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.
"I don't feel that great yet, but it does feel like the playoff formula with the pitching," said Ross, the NL championship series MVP. "Torture again, I guess."
At least until the end.
Ross' line-drive single down the third base line off David Hernandez (2-1) scored pinch-runner Darren Ford from second, sending the Giants pouring out of the dugout in celebration for their third last at-bat win in four games. Ross also drove in all three runs in a 3-0 victory over the Rockies on Sunday that capped San Francisco's first three-game series sweep this season.
Lincecum struck out nine and took a no-hitter into the sixth in another dominating start for the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, giving San Francisco back-to-back shutouts and spoiling a stellar outing by Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy. It was also the first time Arizona has been held scoreless this season.
Brian Wilson (3-1) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
"We kind of have that fire going into those last innings knowing that anything can happen," Lincecum said. "And stuff like this does, and it seems to happen to us quite a bit."
Buster Posey led off the ninth with a four-pitch walk. He was lifted for Ford, who stole second so easily that catcher Miguel Montero didn't even contest with a throw.
Hernandez rallied by striking out Aubrey Huff before Ross sent a line drive past diving third baseman Melvin Mora for another dramatic late-inning victory that is becoming all too common again. The Giants have five walk-off wins already this year.
"That's been the story of my season so far is walking guys, especially leadoff guys," Hernandez said. "Eventually it's going to come back and get you, and today was one of those days."
For most of the game, though, this was a pitcher's duel.
The first hard hit ball of the night didn't even count when Chris Young missed a home run by mere inches in the fifth, when he scorched a fastball from Lincecum that barely cleared the left-field wall and somehow missed striking the foul pole. Instead, Young later popped out to center field.
Leave it to the most unlikely candidate to finally snap Lincecum's streak.
Kennedy sent a groundball up the middle for a clean single with one out in the sixth for his first hit of the season, snapping an 0-for-13 skid at the plate. Mora added a line-drive single to left with two outs before Justin Upton flied out to right.
At a time when no-hitters are becoming commonplace, the feat has eluded San Francisco's ace.
Lincecum has twice taken a no-hitter into the seventh, including earlier this year at Colorado. In that outing April 18, Carlos Gonzalez singled with one out in the seventh before the Giants held on for an 8-1 victory.
"It's so hard to do. It's going to happen at some point in his career," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
His counterpart wasn't quite as dominate but equally effective.
Kennedy struck out eight and allowed four hits in eight innings and managed to wiggle his way out of jams. The Giants loaded the bases with one out in the fourth before Kennedy recovered, striking out Ross and getting Mark DeRosa to ground into a double play.
Kennedy didn't allow another baserunner until Freddy Sanchez's one-out single in the eighth, even breaking the strings on Montero's glove on his 115th pitch.
"It was outstanding," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "He matched Lincecum. He threw the ball very well. We've seen (Lincecum) throw games like that and Ian was up to the task. Their lines were almost identical. We just couldn't get the win."
NOTES: The outing was the 19th time Lincecum has pitched at least seven innings without giving up a run. ... Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval fielded groundballs for the first time since he had surgery to repair a broken bone in his right wrist two weeks ago. He was still wearing a cast and is expected to be out at least another four weeks. ... Gibson, third base coach Matt Williams and bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock spent part of the off day Monday riding San Francisco's famous cable cars. ... Giants reliever Santiago Casilla threw about 35 pitches against hitters before the game. Bochy said Casilla will make at least one rehab start. The club was deciding where that outing will be.
(This version corrects to Mora in 17th paragraph)