The San Francisco Giants figure to rest a few regulars in Sunday's series finale against the San Diego Padres after clinching their second National League West crown in three years. It'll be a well-deserved break.
Right-handed pitcher Tim Lincecum was scratched from his start Sunday, hours after the team clinched its second National League West title in three years.
Lincecum, who has struggled through a 10-14 season with a 4.91 ERA, will be replaced on the month by rookie Yusmeiro Petit.
It will be Petit's first major-league start since 2009 when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Petit had a 3.46 ERA for Class AAA Fresno this season.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the move was part of giving his regulars two days off. The Giants play the Padres at home Sunday and have Monday off.
Bochy said Lincecum, who won the Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009, was sent home before Saturday's game to rest for Sunday's start. However, when we was told he was scratched for Petit and asked to return to the park to celebrate, traffic around AT&T Park made it too difficult for him to join his teammates.
The Giants have played the last month as if they were leading the division by one game, with manager Bruce Bochy going to the bullpen early and often.
San Francisco actually cruised to the NL West crown after going 43-23 since the All-Star break, including 15-5 in September. The Giants have won six straight while San Diego has lost four of its last five. Padres third baseman Chase Headley leads the league with 108 RBIs, and he's hitting .302 with 21 home runs since the All-Star break.
Unlike divisional rival Los Angeles, San Francisco didn't make any blockbuster trades late in the season. Instead, the Giants picked up right fielder Hunter Pence from Philadelphia and infielder Marco Scutaro from Colorado.
While Pence has provided mixed results, Scutaro has been a revelation while hitting .361 in 53 games with the Giants. Scutaro stabilized second base for San Francisco and carries a career-high 12-game hitting streak into Sunday's series finale. He might get the day off in favor of Ryan Theriot, who has played sparingly since Scutaro's arrival. Theriot figures to be a key reserve player in the postseason, along with Gregor Blanco and Xavier Nady.
Scutaro had three hits and drove in three runs in Saturday's game.
Madison Bumgarner (16-10) gave up three runs - two earned - over 5 2/3 innings for the Giants, who have won six straight games and 18 of their last 24. San Francisco has won the NL West eight times since divisional play began in 1969.
Scutaro put the Giants ahead 4-1 in the fourth with a two-run single off Andrew Werner (2-2), who allowed five runs in 5 2/3 frames. Scutaro extended his hitting streak to 12 games, tying his career high.
The Padres pulled within 5-3 in the top of the sixth on Yonder Alonso's two-run homer. Chase Headley drove in two runs to take over the NL lead in RBIs with 108 for San Diego, which has lost four of its last five games.
The Giants extended their lead in the eighth on Brandon Belt's seventh home run off Joe Thatcher. Belt scored three runs, while Pablo Sandoval went 0-for-3 after hitting four home runs in his previous three games.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Bumgarner is the first Giants left-hander with 16 wins since Kirk Rueter in 1998. ...Padres C Yasmani Grandal appeared as a pinch hitter in the ninth after being scratched from the starting lineup for precautionary reasons after taking a foul ball off his mask on Friday. ...The Giants lead the season series 10-4 with four games remaining, including three in San Diego next week.