SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Lincecum’s right knee still throbbing, Chase Utley hustled out toward the mound to apologize that his bat had struck the pitcher.
A tense four-game series featuring a benches-clearing brawl between the teams who represented the National League in the past three World Series ended with an act of sportsmanship.
“He said, ‘Sorry, man,’ ” said Lincecum, San Francisco’s ace. “Bad hop. Bad luck.”
Lincecum stayed sharp until Utley accidentally lost his grip and the Giants ended the Philadelphia Phillies’ season-high nine-game winning streak, tagging Roy Oswalt in a 3-1 victory Sunday.
Jeff Keppinger had four hits as the Giants spoiled Oswalt’s return from the disabled list and avoided a four-game sweep.
“That was one of the biggest games of the year, really,” Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said. “Four-game sweeps are tough to deal with, especially in your home yard.”
Lincecum (10-9) went down in the eighth inning when Utley’s bat skittered back at him. Utley went out to check on Lincecum, who handed back the bat, walked it off and stayed in the game. Utley then hit a one-out single.
The former Liberty High and University of Washington star left later in the eighth after Hunter Pence reached with two outs on Huff’s error. Javier Lopez relieved and retired Raul Ibañez.
Recently acquired Carlos Beltran left after the seventh for the Giants. He felt a sharp pain in his right hand on a swinging strikeout to end the sixth. X-rays were negative and Beltran is expected to play today against Pittsburgh.
The NL East-leading Phillies, with the majors’ best record at 74-40, hadn’t lost since dropping two out of three to the Giants from July 26-28.
Lincecum beat the Phillies for the second time in three starts.
“With the funk we’ve been in, you hope this is something to build on,” he said. “We don’t want to be content just winning one here and there.”
It was a timely performance for the reigning World Series champions, who have been struggling to score enough runs. San Francisco maintained its half-game lead on Arizona in the NL West after the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers.
“He gave us what we needed,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Oswalt (4-7) gave up a season-high 12 hits in his first start since June 23.