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CHC@SF: Lincecum hurls five no-hit frames for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wednesday couldn't have gone much better for the Giants.

Starter Tim Lincecum tossed five no-hit innings and the offense came alive late, as the Giants blanked the Cubs, 5-0, for San Francisco's fourth shutout and second in a row. Oh, and Hunter Pence's stolen scooter was returned to AT&T Park safe and sound during the game.

"We can all sleep tonight," manager Bruce Bochy said.

At one point during the postgame scrum in the clubhouse, there were more reporters huddled around Pence's scooter than around players. At least the horde didn't have to move far to interview nearby Lincecum, who was the real star of the game.

Lincecum wrapped up his strong month of May with an effectively wild performance. Sure, he issued four walks across his five innings and two more Cubs reached base, but at least he was unhittable while striking out five.

Despite having a no-no, Lincecum was pulled for pinch-hitter Brandon Hicks in the bottom of the fifth after throwing 96 pitches. After seeing Lincecum develop a small blister in the third inning, Bochy decided it was best to pull him even with a no-hitter on the line.

"We had concerns there," Bochy said. "With that, it was time. I felt we might have got one more inning out of him. But he worked so hard out there that it was time. When you're close to 100 pitches after five innings, that's a lot of work."

The first inning is what really hurt Lincecum, as he needed 32 pitches to get through the frame while issuing two walks. But the right-hander said he was able to find a groove as the game went on and that he probably had one more inning in his arm at best.

"Disappointment is on myself, just because I didn't give myself that leash to go deeper," Lincecum said. "Granted, the blister isn't something that you can really control, but I think my pitch count was something that I could have."

The start continued his recent run of success while working in tandem with Hector Sanchez, who caught his sixth straight Lincecum start. During that span, Lincecum has gone 3-2 with a 2.86 ERA, looking like the pitcher the Giants wanted to see after signing him to a two-year, $35 million contract this winter.

In the process, he's been able to develop a strong connection with Sanchez.

"I just try to be on the same page with him," Sanchez said. "We try to work together. I know what he probably likes to throw in any situation, any count. That's probably why we have a good relationship and work together."

So did Lincecum have legit, no-hit stuff?

"Today?" Sanchez said with a smile. "Absolutely."

The Cubs finally broke up the no-hitter with a one-out single against Jeremy Affeldt in the top of the seventh, but only totaled two hits on the day. Still, Edwin Jackson's strong start for Chicago -- he gave up two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings -- meant the Giants were still locked in a scoreless tie until the sixth inning.

Pablo Sandoval extended his RBI streak to eight games with a single up the middle that scored Angel Pagan and broke the deadlock. Sandoval is the first Giant to collect an RBI in at least eight consecutive contests since J.T. Snow accomplished the feat from April 8-18, 2003.

"Pablo's been the guy that's really come through for us," Bochy said. "The whole lineup, we're getting contributions, but he seems like he's in such a good zone right now and he's the guy you want up there with men on base."

Tyler Colvin extended San Francisco's lead to 2-0 with an RBI double to left field in the sixth before the Giants put the game out of reach with a three-run rally in the seventh. Buster Posey hit a chopper to the left side that Cubs third baseman Mike Olt couldn't handle, and it bounced into left field while Gregor Blanco scored. Then Sanchez blew the game open with a two-run double to the left-field gap.

"That's a great hitting team," Jackson said. "They run a lineup out there that can produce a lot of runs. You want to come at them and attack the strike zone and put the pressure on them and make them put the ball in play."

Even though the Giants shut out the Cubs for the second straight game, closer Sergio Romo joked that the "top story of the day" was the return of Pence's scooter. After going 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, Pence was all smiles as he spoke to reporters, adding that he might put the scooter up for charity auction since it brought the Giants community together.

"I was running in from the outfield and [Juan Gutierrez] had this huge smile on his face, smiling and giving me a high-five," Pence said. "I was, like, 'What just happened?' He said, 'They got your scooter.' So I got my scooter back. It's pretty exciting. Thank you, fans and media, for helping me do this."

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