"I think he was joking," Lincecum said with a grin.
He made sure he didn't have to find out.
Lincecum looked like his old self, pitching a four-hitter and bouncing back from a rough outing with a career-high 15 strikeouts in the San Francisco Giants' 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner provided the Giants with a much-needed boost on the heels of a disappointing 3-7 road trip that saw them lose their wild-card lead. The hard-throwing right-hander earned his fourth complete game this season and sixth of his career, finishing his 115-pitch gem in 2 hours, 6 minutes.
"It was right up there with one of his better games," San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy said. "He looked like he was excited to be home, excited to get us back on track. He was on a mission out there."
Lincecum (11-3), the All-Star starter for the National League earlier this month, dazzled on a night the Giants paid tribute to late owner Sue Burns, who died July 19 of complications from lung cancer only nine days after being diagnosed.
Bonds was among those in attendance to honor Burns, a close friend of the slugger's. Bonds sat in the owner's box near the Giants' dugout.
This marked the sixth time this season and 17th in his career that Lincecum struck out 10 or more. He walked three. Lincecum is only the third Giants pitcher since 1958 to strike out 15 or more and first since Jason Schmidt had 16 K's on June 6, 2006.
He had two strikeouts in each of the first five innings before giving up a pair of unearned runs in the sixth following a throwing error by shortstop Edgar Renteria.
"All his pitches were unbelievable," Pirates right fielder Garrett Jones said of Lincecum. "He was hitting his spots with his changeup, throwing his curveball, hitting his spot any time during the count. He rarely made any mistakes. That's pretty much how he's been all year and his whole career. Today he just maybe had a little extra."
Lincecum had to wait a while to finish this one. Pirates reliever John Grabow complained about the mound and the grounds crew came out to work on it for several minutes. But Lincecum walked back out to a roaring standing ovation, a mist hovering just above the field. He got his final two strikeouts in the ninth -- fanning Andy LaRoche for the third time to end the game -- and retired the last eight batters he faced.
"It was a little frustrating," he said of the work to fill a hole on the mound. "I wanted the inning to go by a little quicker. It's like, 'Let's go.'"
The Pirates took two of three from the Giants last week and had won 10 of the last 14.
Pittsburgh starter Paul Maholm (6-5) was tagged for eight hits and four runs in six innings. The left-hander hadn't lost in five starts since June 21 at Colorado, but had three no-decisions during that span. He was charged with all four San Francisco runs and has allowed 11 earned runs over his last 10 2/3 innings.
Pittsburgh All-Star second baseman Freddy Sanchez was a late scratch with a lingering sore knee. Sanchez also sat out Friday night's game against the Diamondbacks with the same problem.
Before the game, San Francisco acquired first baseman Ryan Garko from the Cleveland Indians for Class-A left-hander and talented prospect Scott Barnes. Garko was with the Indians in Anaheim before being scratched late and he should be in uniform and playing for San Francisco on Tuesday night.
Giants CF Aaron Rowand missed his seventh straight start with a forearm injury. An MRI on the arm revealed a slight tear and he likely will be out another four or five days. Rowand is in pain when he throws. ... Injured LHP and 303-game winner Randy Johnson had an MRI on his shoulder. After meeting with team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki, it's been determined Johnson still needs some time before he begins a throwing program. Johnson didn't travel on the last road trip and worked out and rehabilitated in Arizona. While Johnson is feeling better, he said: "One step at a time. The big test will be when I can play catch."
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