SAN FRANCISCO -- Chase Headley couldn't tell you the exact moment he faced Tim Lincecum for the first time, though he remembers what the general experience was like.
"It was much more power back then -- a hard fastball, hard curveball," Headley said, who first faced the Giants pitcher as a rookie in 2008.
To be sure, Lincecum isn't the same pitcher today that he was early in his career, though it might have been hard to tell as much on Wednesday, when he threw his second no-hitter in as many seasons against these Padres, a 4-0 victory on a cloud-covered day by the Bay.
Lincecum's stuff might not be as electric as it was in his no-hitter at Petco Park last July 13, but his split-finger fastball and changeup were as devastating as any fastball he threw.
Lincecum struck out six, walked one and retired the last 23 hitters he faced. Not bad at all for a pitcher who entered the game with a 4.90 ERA.
"It just goes to show that a good starting pitcher can shut it down," said manager Bud Black.
But there's just something about Lincecum and the Padres. He's now won 15 games in his career against them, four more than any other team. In 28 career starts (187 1/3 innings) against San Diego, he's 15-6 with a 2.35 ERA and 210 strikeouts.
"When you face him, you never know what Timmy you're going to get," said first baseman Tommy Medica, who grew up down the road in San Jose and played college ball at Santa Clara.
"I think it just goes to show that even though his velocity is down, he's still able to make good pitches."
Lincecum needed 113 pitches to get through his nine historic innings. He induced 17 ground-ball outs and, as perhaps a testament to how good he was, there were never really any close calls in the field.
Along the way he leaned heavily on his secondary pitches.
"I think I saw two fastballs," said his counterpart, Ian Kennedy, of his two at-bats.
The Padres, who have been shut out 12 times this season, were coming off victories in the first two games of this series. Better still, they scored six runs on Monday and seven on Tuesday. They finally felt that the offense might be starting to turn around, though it was a small sample size.
That all changed on Wednesday, though.
Lincecum (6-5) retired the first four batters that he faced before walking Headley, the Padres' only baserunner in the game. From there he cruised. He pounded the strike zone, worked fast and was efficient.
This is the third time in the past six seasons that a Giants pitcher tossed a no-hitter against the Padres. Prior to Lincecum's no-no last season at Petco Park, where he struck out 13, it was Jonathan Sanchez who accomplished the feat at AT&T Park in 2009.
"[Lincecum is] a guy who has a couple of Cy Young Awards, someone who we have gotten to on occasion," Black said. "Today he pitched a good game."