SAN DIEGO -- Bruce Bochy started to get that feeling again, and as Chris Heston set down one Padre after the next, Bochy kept a close eye on the scoreboard at Petco Park that lists pitch counts. Heston was at 69 through five hitless innings but Melvin Upton Jr. scuttled any chance at another historic performance with a broken-bat single in the sixth.
"It probably saved me because his pitch count was getting up and I've been in that boat here," Bochy said.
So, was Bochy going to let Heston make a run at a second no-hitter in two months even if his pitch count soared past 100?
"I let Timmy throw 148," Bochy said, smiling as he recounted Lincecum's no-hitter here in 2013. "What do you think I would have done?"
Ultimately Heston settled for another brilliant performance: 7 1/3 shutout innings that lowered his ERA to a staff-best 3.18 and led the Giants to a 9-3 win over the Padres. Heston became the first MLB rookie to reach 10 wins this season and the first Giants rookie to do it since Matt Cain won 13 in 2006.
"Just getting talked about in the same sentence as these guys is pretty cool for me," Heston said.
The rest of this night wasn't cool for Heston, at least not when it came to internal temperature. It was an abnormally humid night in San Diego and Heston had trouble gripping the ball early. He was firing so hot for two-plus hours that he was still sweating as he gave an interview in an air-conditioned clubhouse. But the humidity plays to Heston's strengths -- his sinker moves better in thick air, and on this night the Padres had no chance. Heston was perfect through three and allowed just one hit before being lifted in the eighth. He struck out four the first time through the order and ended up with six whiffs.
"The sinker, the sinker was really good," catcher Hector Sanchez said. "I've never seen him throw his sinker like that."
Sanchez, in his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento, joined Heston in playing a starring role. Hunter Pence homered early and Brandon Crawford hit a three-run shot before Sanchez put the game away with a sixth-inning grand slam. Sanchez's first grand slam came last April in Colorado when the Rockies intentionally walked Joaquin Arias to load the bases. This time, Gregor Blanco was intentionally walked so Dale Thayer could go after Sanchez instead. Sanchez said he didn't take it personally, but he did show a bit of flair as the ball screamed for the right-field seats. Sanchez paused and then flipped his bat, and as he headed toward first, Thayer took the chewing gum out of his mouth and threw it at Sanchez.
"I didn't notice that," Sanchez claimed. "I'm just trying to enjoy the game. It's a grand slam, you don't hit a grand slam every day. I'm just trying to enjoy the game. If somebody gets mad at me, I don't know what the reason is. I just enjoy the game."
The Padres did get mad, and revenge came in the ninth. Kinda. Shawn Kelley threw inside on his first pitch to Sanchez and then followed him to first on a groundout. Kelley said a few words to the young catcher.
"He told me something," Sanchez said. "I (didn't) hear what he told me."
Kelley claimed he was "just trying to pitch my game."
"I guess that's part of the game now," he said of the bat flip. "To me, that's a little disrespectful, especially to Dale. I don't think there's a place in this game for that, but it's part of it. Guys admire what they do, and when you get one, sometimes guys watch it. But that's between him and his teammates and the Giants. That's not our business."
The Padres made it their business and the benches cleared. It was a typical baseball clearing, with players mostly standing around. Only a couple of players had to be held back and the teams never got close to an actual brawl. The biggest blow might have been landed later, when Angel Pagan, referencing a gum-toss earlier this season that enraged Padres catcher Derek Norris, cut Sanchez's interview off by jokingly saying of Thayer, "He's copying me, man!"
"That's my move," Pagan said.
The theatrics in the ninth couldn't overshadow another much-needed performance by Heston, who has pitched at least seven innings in eight of his starts this season. This time, Bochy let his new No. 2 starter eat: Heston threw a career-high 116 pitches. You couldn't blame the Giants relievers for running down to support Sanchez when Kelley started yelling; they probably just needed to stretch their legs after a night of watching Heston dominate into the eighth.
"Sometimes it's not bad to get stretched out," Bochy said of his rookie. "I really believe that. I think it builds strength and stamina."
Heston said he felt good on the mound, and it was only after he was pulled that he realized how tired he was. It was a good feeling, but not quite as good as the one he felt last month. Heston has barely had time to pack away his souvenirs from the Mets no-hitter, but he admitted that the thought of a second one crossed his mind early on Tuesday.
"I try not to think about it," he said. "It's just about executing your pitches and taking it one hitter at a time."
--- Heston's last eight starts: 5-1, 1.83 ERA. Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant get all the headlines, but at some point the baseball world is going to have to let Heston and Matt Duffy into the Rookie of the Year race.
--- Hunter Pence got a 77 mph curveball from Odrisamer Despaigne and hit a homer that left the park at 113 mph. That's hard to do.
--- I've always been on Team Bat Flip. I agree with Sanchez here -- the game is supposed to be enjoyable, and really it's just a game. Nothing wrong with a good bat flip, and few of them are as much of a release as the one we saw tonight. Sanchez nearly had his career ended by concussions last season and he had another one earlier this year. He also got demoted to the minors and only returned because of an injury. This had to feel good, especially after another hitter was intentionally walked to put him in that spot. Keep flipping, Hector.
--- The great Henry Schulman got hit by a foul ball late in this game. Justin Maxwell, who hit the ball that came back to the press box, had a little fun with it.