SAN FRANCISCO -- Two good pitchers were on their game Saturday night.
One great hitter distinguished winner from loser.
Tim Lincecum pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning and Pablo Sandoval gave him the run support he needed with a two-run homer as the San Francisco Giants made it two in a row over the San Diego Padres with a 2-0 victory at AT&T Park.
Working with catcher Buster Posey for the first time this season, Lincecum (2-0) struck out eight and walked two in 6 2/3 innings, surrendering four hits, all singles.
"I pitched at a little quicker pace and got into a real good rhythm," Lincecum said of the difference in throwing to Posey. "My fastball was working really well for me tonight."
In running his career record to 11-5 against the Padres, Lincecum left the bases loaded in the third inning by getting Chase Headley to ground out to second base, then in the fifth got Headley on a strikeout and Yonder Alonso on a grounder to first with a runner on second.
The biggest pitch, Lincecum said, was the 3-and-1 fastball to Headley in the third in a scoreless game. The two-time Cy Young Award winner had been haunted by big innings in his two previous starts and potentially was one bad pitch from another before getting the Padres' No. 3 hitter to fist an inside fastball slowly to Marco Scutaro to end the threat.
"I decided to be aggressive and go after him instead of nit-picking," Lincecum explained. "That's what's gotten me in trouble some of those big innings."
Pitching into the seventh for the first time this season, Lincecum had to be rescued by left-hander Jose Mijares after walking .188-hitting catcher John Baker with two outs, advancing Jesus Guzman to second and putting the potential tying runs on base. Mijares got lefty pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay to fly to medium-deep right field to end the threat.
Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo completed the shutout. Casilla got Alonso to hit into an inning-ending double play with two runners aboard in the eighth. Romo pitched a hitless ninth for his major-league-leading eighth save.
Despite getting outhit 5-3, the Giants won for the fourth consecutive time in Lincecum starts this season. This time, he didn't need the 5.3 runs of support with which he'd been given on average the first three times out. In fact, the Giants had only two hits while Lincecum was in the game, but one of them was a difference-maker.
The switch-hitting Sandoval turned on an inside fastball by Padres emergency starter Andrew Cashner (0-1) in the fourth for his third home run of the season. The blast scored Angel Pagan ahead of him and increased Sandoval's team-leading RBI total to 16.
Everyone agreed that the pitch thrown by one of the Padres' top prospects didn't deserve to get hit out of the ballpark.
"I thought I jammed him," Cashner said. "It was right where I wanted to throw the ball."
Nonetheless, Sandoval was able to get it high enough to land in the first row of the arcade above the right-field wall.
"He threw a great pitch -- inside and high. I got lucky," Sandovall said.
Padres coach Bud Black said, "Sandoval is a talented hitter. A slasher. That was a good pitch -- a mid-90s fastball on the hands. The guy can hit."
Sandoval left the game after striking out in the bottom of the seventh, an at-bat during which he fouled a ball off his right shin. Joaquin Arias replaced him at third base.
Cashner pitched well in place of Clayton Richard, who was scratched with flu-like symptoms. Other than the home run, the Giants' only other hit off the right-hander in four innings was a single by Posey.
"I thought I threw the ball well," said Cashner, who got an early heads-up in the morning that Richard wasn't feeling well. "I felt like I could keep going, but we've got a lot of good guys down there in the bullpen."
Everth Cabrera had two of the Padres' five hits, including a double.
Sandoval's home run came three pitches after he appeared to give the Giants a 1-0 lead with a flare down the left-field line that eluded a diving Guzman. But the ball landed just foul, sending Pagan temporarily back to second base.
Pagan had walked to start the inning and advanced into scoring position on a Scutaro grounder to the right side.
"The home run didn't beat me," Cashner said. "The walk beat me."
The home run was one of two hits allowed by Cashner, who struck out five and walked one in four innings. He was pulled after throwing 65 pitches.
NOTES: The Giants are now 6-2 at AT&T Park this season and go for their second home-series sweep on Sunday with Barry Zito squaring off against the Padres' Eric Stults. ... Jason Marquis, one of the Padres' starting pitchers, pinch-hit for Cashner in the fifth. He struck out. ... The Padres took a double-hit with their starting pitching Saturday. Not only was Richard unable to start, but Tyson Ross had to be placed on the disabled list with pain in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. ... Richard is a candidate to be moved up two days in the Padres' rotation next week to take Ross' spot on Tuesday against Milwaukee. ... Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin took a cortisone shot in his injured right wrist on Friday. It's hoped that the injection will aid his rehab. He's aiming to come off the disabled list the first week of May.