SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy's slow trot to the mound in the seventh signaled the end of Tim Lincecum's night and coaxed some murmured boos from the AT&T Park crowd, which was followed by a loud ovation for the embattled two-time Cy Young winner.
Lincecum was nearly unrecognizable from his previous struggles, tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday to shave another figure off the Giants' magic number, which dwindled to seven after a 6-3 win against the Rockies.
His seventh quality start in his last 10 outings lowered his second-half ERA to 3.06, which is less than half of the 6.42 ERA he posted before the All-Star break, and his season ERA dropped to 4.91, the first time it has been below 5.00 this season.
"I know it's been a long year, but I've never stopped working," Lincecum said. "I've never stopped trying to get better. I've just focused on getting better between pitches, and I think that's allowed me to make better pitches."
Xavier Nady aided Lincecum's effort with two RBI singles, and the Giants extended their lead over the rained-out Dodgers to 8 1/2 games in the National League West standings. The Giants have now won 11 of Lincecum's last 17 starts after going 2-12 in his first 14 outings this season.
Lincecum used a bevy of fastballs and sliders to notch 10 groundouts and six strikeouts in his 10th win, becoming just the eighth pitcher in San Francisco-era history to register double-digit wins in five consecutive seasons.
"Timmy's tough when he's on his game, and he's on it right now," Bochy said, reiterating that Lincecum has regained much of his form that previously had him among the game's most dominant pitchers. "It's good for all of us, believe me, to see him throw the ball like this."
Nady gave the Giants the early lead when he followed a two-out double from Hector Sanchez with a single in the second inning, and he later added an insurance run with an RBI single in the sixth. The Giants' bid for their 14th shutout of the season wasn't foiled until the eighth when Santiago Casilla gave up a two-run home run to Wilin Rosario.
Lincecum was lifted in the seventh with one out and the bases loaded after running into some unfortunate luck. Tyler Colvin started the inning by reaching first, despite an impressive diving stop by Pablo Sandoval at third base, after Hector Sanchez was called for catcher's interference. Chris Nelson and Josh Rutledge both reached base on sharp infield singles to third base and first base, respectively, that Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey weren't able to corral.
Jeremy Affeldt came on in relief and got pinch-hitter Jason Giambi to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"Affeldt, what a job he did to save us there," Bochy said. "They had a good hitter up there with the bases loaded, and he made a great pitch and that double play saved us. I don't know what else could have gone wrong in that inning, really."
"We sent an awfully good hitter up there as a pinch-hitter with a history against the guy that was out there, and we hit into the double play," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
The win didn't come without its quirks. In addition to the catcher's interference call in the seventh, Nady was ruled out on interference at second base on Brandon Crawford's chopper in the sixth that fell in between Rockies pitcher Carlos Torres and second baseman DJ LaMahieu even though replays showed that Nady made contact when LaMahieu stuck out his elbow.
"I do think he bought a call there, and I didn't agree with the call," Bochy said. "You have to give the fielder room there to field the ball. It looked like the infielder was trying to cause interference."
Angel Pagan was later called out on strikes to end the sixth and reacted by tossing his bat in the air, which led home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez to point at Pagan to signal he would get fined for throwing his bat, a league-wide rule. Bochy had to come out and restrain a visibly upset Pagan, who later said he was merely seeking an explanation.
"There were some strange things out there tonight, but it was a good win," Bochy said.
Pagan stayed in the game and drove in Gregor Blanco in the eighth inning with his Major League-leading and San Francisco-era Giants-record 14th triple.
The Giants, who are now 2-0 in their 10-game homestand, have won 14 of their last 20 games and 24 of their last 35.
Jay Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.