SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals are in a tough stretch against baseball's hottest pitchers, and they're not helping themselves with the few opportunities they've had to break out of their funk.
The Cardinals couldn't score after loading the bases with no outs in the fourth, and they were shut down by Tim Lincecum the rest of the way in a 5-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
"When a guy's making good pitches, you get him on the ropes, you've got to make him bleed a little bit. That one slipped away," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Lincecum followed his second career no-hitter with another vintage performance. He pitched eight scoreless innings before Jean Machi tossed a drama-free ninth.
St. Louis' best chance to score came in the fourth, when Lincecum loaded the bases before striking out Allen Craig and Jon Jay and getting Daniel Descalso to ground out. Lincecum pounded his glove and received a standing ovation from the announced sellout crowd of 41,152.
"We've tried to be realistic, too, with the caliber of pitching we've been seeing, but when you see an opportunity slip away like that, you can't completely give all the credit to the pitching," Craig said.
The Cardinals faced a pitcher with a no-hitter this season for the third time in five games. After Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw led the Los Angeles Dodgers to victories over St. Louis, Craig singled with one out in the second to put an early end to Lincecum's bid for another no-hitter.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, who has shown signs of returning to his dominant form of late, showed the poise and polish of his younger days even when things started to go awry.