SAN FRANCISCO -- At one point a long shot to make the Giants' roster, Hector Sanchez has emerged as a dependable handler of the San Francisco pitching staff.

Sanchez was behind the plate for Tim Lincecum's scoreless seven-inning performance Wednesday, as well as all of Lincecum's current 12-inning scoreless streak.

"It's amazing the strides he has made as a catcher," manager Bruce Bochy said before Thursday's opener against the Reds. "This is a really young kid who hasn't had a lot of time in the Minors. He's come along."

Heading into Spring Training, the backup catcher position looked to belong to either Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart, not the 22-year-old Sanchez -- who had just 187 Minor League games under his belt in his two years outside of the rookie leagues.

"We had a couple tough calls, and we felt that he was ready to catch up here and handle these guys," Bochy said.

Sanchez didn't start playing the position until right before he was signed by the Giants in 2006, but now has become a reliable option behind the plate, giving the Giants the luxury of playing Buster Posey at first more, or giving him days off.

Bochy said he has been impressed with Sanchez's eagerness to study and learn the practice of handling a pitching staff, especially as of late.

"He's done a much better job of that," Bochy said. "When he came up, he would drift a little bit. We'd get on him to make sure that he's doing his work. Not that he was neglecting it, but he has to understand that the most important job for him is to handle the staff. He needs to know these guys inside and out."

Giants starters hanging zeros on opposition

SAN FRANCISCO -- After three straight shutouts in the series sweep of the Dodgers, manager Bruce Bochy and the Giants aimed to continue their starting pitching success in Thursday's series opener against the Reds.

Entering the contest, Giants starting pitchers had posted a 0.32 ERA over the last four games and a 2.10 ERA in the last seven.

"It gets a little contagious," Bochy said of the starting pitching. "You get on a roll, you get some momentum going, some mojo going, then things start rolling. Then you get a nice streak together. It really helps the team together.

The three shutouts the Giants posted against the Dodgers marked the first time the club had held their division rivals without a run over a three-game set. After watching Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong each throw seven scoreless innings in the first two games of the series, Tim Lincecum produced his own scoreless seven-inning start in Wednesday's 3-0 win.

Bochy said that there is a healthy amount of pressure to continue the strong starting pitching within the rotation, but that the team isn't exactly requiring a shutout from Thursday's starter Madison Bumgarner.

"I'll say this: Timmy wanted to keep up with those guys," Bochy said. "But it's a different team, and Madison doesn't have to do that. He just needs to go out and give us what he normally does."