SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after frustrations peaked in a late-game implosion that sent San Francisco a season-high 13 games under .500, the Giants took the field with new life Thursday.
They looked loose and focused, scoring four times in the first two innings to support a vintage Tim Lincecum start in a 4-1 win that earned San Francisco a series split against the Brewers.
It was the type of game you expected to see from the 2010-2012 Giants, but not this year. Eight innings of one-hit ball from Lincecum paired with production up and down the lineup to bury the last-place Brewers early.
Sergio Romo closed the door, but not before the Brewers spoiled Lincecum's shutout in the ninth.
The win gave San Francisco just a 2-5 record against the Brewers this year. They've been outscored 33-23 by Milwuakee, one of just two National League teams with a lower winning percentage than the Giants. The Giants are now 21-34 against opponents worse than .500 this year.
Starting pitcher report
The Giants had lost all three of Tim Lincecum's post-no hitter starts, but staked to a three-run lead in the first inning, Lincecum ensured that streak wouldn't reach four.
Lincecum walked off the field to a standing ovation after facing just two more than the minimum number of batters over eight shutout innings.
The slight righty kept the Brewers guessing all Thursday afternoon. He completed six three-up, three-down frames, allowing only a leadoff double in the third inning and a walk in the fifth.
Though he threw first-pitch strikes to just 15 of the 26 batters he faced, Lincecum leaned on his dynamic arsenal of pitches to complete eight dominant innings. His fastball located, sitting around 90 miles per hour, and he threw his off-speed stuff with conviction, as he recorded all but one of his eight strikeouts with the change-up, slider or curveball.
It was a welcome sight for Giants fans to see Lincecum's curveball buckling batters. He used it to strike out the dangerous Carlos Gomez twice. After Gomez, who homered off Matt Cain in Game 2, watched home plate umpire Adrian Johnson ring him up on a fourth-inning curve, Gomez was pressured into swinging at it in the seventh. But its bite was sharp and Gomez whiffed, losing his helmet as he corkscrewed himself into the batter's box.
It's important for Lincecum to pitch well down the stretch as he is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season and his future with the Giants is unclear.
Lincecum's final line: 8 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, 8 K, 108 P, W.
Sandy Rosario started the ninth, but yielded a leadoff double to pinch hitter Khris Davis before passing the baton to Javier Lopez. Lopez retired Norichika Aoki on one pitch and gave way to Sergio Romo for the final two outs.
Romo allowed a single to Jean Segura that scored Davis to spoil the Giants' shutout before striking out Carlos Gomez to end it.
At the plate
What a world of difference a successful leadoff hitter makes. The Giants scored more runs in the first inning Thursday than they had in the past 18 innings combined.
Marco Scutaro might not be leaving his new spot atop the lineup again. After Giants leadoff hitters combined to go 6-for-76 (.079) since the All-Star break, Scutaro ended an 0-for-22 leadoff spot skid by capping off an 11-pitch at-bat with a solid single to left in the first inning. He followed with a double to left in his next at-bat, and had two runs scored in the first two innings. Giants leadoff hitters had scored just four runs in 19 games since the All-Star break.
After going 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position through the first three games of the Brewers series, the Giants matched their hit total in the first two innings of Game 4, putting up four runs on 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position. The Brandons -- Belt and Crawford -- delivered the clutch hits, batting fourth and second, respectively.
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Belt looked every bit the cleanup hitter in his MLB debut hitting fourth. He mashed a 1-0 fastball onto the right-field facade for a three-run home run in his first at-bat, marking just the Giants' third hit with runners position this series and snapping the franchise's fourth-longest home run drought at home. The Giants hadn't gone deep at AT&T Park since Buster Posey homered back on July 20 -- a span of 11 home games.
You can't ask for better table setting, as Scutaro and Crawford combined to for 6-for-9 with three runs scored, one RBI, two doubles and a strikeout.
In the field
The Giants played clean defense behind Lincecum.
Don't challenge Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez. It's clear after four games at AT&T Park that he has ridiculous range. The 27-year-old Gomez added another impressive catch to his series highlight reel in the fourth inning when he tracked down Brandon Belt's drive slicing away from him, adding a pair of momentum-slowing somersaults for good measure.
Hector Sanchez, who said before the game that his shoulder is as strong as it's been all year, was stolen on twice, though the 23-year-old catcher made solid throws on both attempts.
The Giants announced a paid attendance of 41,219, the 223rd consecutive home sellout at AT&T Park.
After happily bidding the Brewers goodbye, the Giants welcome the upstart Baltimore Orioles to AT&T Park for a three-game set. Ryan Vogelsong (2-4, 7.19) is set to make his first start since undergoing surgery on his fractured pinkie finger on May 21. He'll be opposed by right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman (14-3, 3.89) in Game 1, against which Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro and Andres Torres have all collected hits.