Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI - Facing elimination again, the San Francisco Giants came out swinging Wednesday. Got a saving relief appearance from Tim Lincecum, too.
Tim Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young winner, comes in from the bullpen to strike out six as the Giants crush the Reds to even their NL divisional series at 2-2.
The Associated Press
WHO: San Francisco Giants (Cain) at Cincinnati Reds (Latos)
AT STAKE: Winner advances to NLCS
Angel Pagan led off with a home run, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later and the Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-3, evening their NL division series at 2-all.
Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young winner relegated to the bullpen, also delivered. He entered in the fourth with the Giants ahead 3-2, struck out six while giving up just one run in 4 1/3 innings, and allowed his team to pull away.
"I knew he would play a huge role in this," manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Giants can complete an unprecedented comeback on Thursday. No team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three on the road.
"Thanks to the win today, there will be a tomorrow," Pagan said.
Matt Cain, who lost the opener and has yet to beat the Reds in three tries this season, will start Game 5 against Mat Latos.
One thing in the Reds' favor -- they haven't dropped three straight at home all season.
"I'd like to think that we still have the advantage," Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said.
The Reds were hoping to start ace Johnny Cueto, but had to drop him off the roster Wednesday because he was still bothered by a strained muscle.
The Giants managed only four runs in the first three games of the series. They avoided the sweep by pulling out a 2-1 win in 10 innings Tuesday with the help of a passed ball and an error by third baseman Scott Rolen.
They broke out Wednesday against Mike Leake, who replaced Cueto and had a rough time.
Pagan homered on his second pitch of the game. Blanco hit a two-run shot in the second. The Giants had another breakthrough in the fifth, when back-to-back doubles by Joaquin Arias and Pagan ended an 0-for-14 slump with runners in scoring position during the series.
Sandoval's two-run shot in the seventh made it 8-3, matched the Giants' season high for homers and drew boos from the crowd of 44,375 - the third-largest at Great American Ball Park. Fans quietly settled into their seats and used their white rally towels as lap warmers against the evening chill.
The Giants don't hit many homers - only 103 during the season, fewest in the majors. They're only the seventh team since 1900 to reach the playoffs after finishing last in homers.
While the offense went to work, Lincecum bailed out the bullpen.
Bochy didn't hesitate to put the guys he wanted on the mound, using four pitchers in the first four innings. Lincecum got the final out in the fourth and kept going, allowing only two hits in his second relief appearance of the series.
Bochy went with left-hander Barry Zito over Lincecum for Game 4, choosing the better pitcher down the stretch. But the left-hander lasted only 2 2/3 innings, his shortest career outing in the postseason. On came Lincecum to save the day.