SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants still cheer wildly for Tim Lincecum even when he’s coming out of the bullpen in a blowout loss.
So a Lincecum victory seemed appropriate enough on Fan Appreciation Day, as the Giants wrapped up an 88-74 regular season with a 9-3 victory over the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park.
Lincecum pitched two scoreless innings to pick up his second relief win in this series, and Buster Posey hit a home run in his return to the lineup – a very encouraging sign for the NL Wild Card-bound Giants.
[BAGGARLY: Wild Card roster, travel plans take shape]
Posey, who had missed the previous two games as a precaution because of a tight lower back, caught three innings and ended the season with a .311 average, 22 home runs and a team-high 89 RBI.
Pablo Sandoval was 1 for 2 and also exited after three innings in what might have been his final home game as a Giant. Sandoval is a free agent after the season.
And who got to throw the last regular-season pitch? None other than Brett Bochy, the manager’s son, while striking out two in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Starting pitching report
Chris Heston might have had some nerves in his first major league start, when the first four Padres batters collected singles against him. But better to allow hits than to walk the ballpark.
Heston settled down and was able to limit the damage to two runs, with some help from a great knockdown and flip to second base by shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Heston also gave up a run in the third and was charged with three runs on six hits in four innings. He didn’t get a shot at his first major league win, since Bruce Bochy wanted to get a look at several relievers as he gauges both his playoff roster and pecking order in the bullpen.
Lincecum entered to cheers and retired six of the seven batters he faced, allowing just a single in two scoreless innings. He got three outs on three ground balls and three in the air.
Because Heston didn’t pitch long enough to qualify for the decision, Lincecum backed into it. He picked up career victories No. 100 and 101 in the span of this four-game series, both in relief.
George Kontos added a scoreless inning and is likely on the postseason roster as well.
At the plate
Posey’s home run tied it in the first and the Giants went ahead in a two-run second inning when Gregor Blanco hit a sacrifice fly and Joe Panik hit an RBI single.
Adam Duvall hit a solo home run in the fourth inning – his third homer in the big leagues and his 30th overall, counting the 27 he hit at Triple-A Fresno.
Already up 5-3, the Giants added the fries and slaw to the sandwich (and I got to practice my Pittsburgh culinary references) in a four-run seventh inning. Gary Brown picked up his first RBI single, Joaquin Arias hit a two-run double and Matt Duffy had an RBI single off the bench.
Duffy is 6 for 15 as a pinch hitter this season. No doubt, those #DuffMan bats are bound for Pittsburgh.
The Giants won a replay challenge on an out call at first base, giving Panik an infield single. It was the difference between finishing a very satisfying rookie season with a .305 average instead of a .302 mark.
Ishikawa made another tough line drive look easy, getting a solid jump and read to make a catch. The Pirates’ opening-day first baseman, Ishikawa will be the Giants’ starting left fielder in a playoff elimination game.
With an official crowd of 41,077, the Giants extended their streak of announcing sellouts to 327 consecutive regular-season games -- their third consecutive sold-out season. Their regular-season total attendance of 3,368,697 was 409 fewer than last year. Heads will roll!
The Giants travel to Pittsburgh for the wild card game against the Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday. Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98 ERA) takes the mound against Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez (13-7, 3.04). First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. PDT.