Sam LeCure, Mat Latos and three other pitchers shut down San Francisco after Johnny Cueto went out in the first inning with a back injury, and the Cincinnati Reds were powered by home runs from Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce to beat the Giants 5-2 in Game 1 of the NL division series Saturday night.
That same year, Cincinnati was swept out of the first round by the Phillies, getting no-hit by Roy Halladay. This time, the Reds clobbered Cain and played on with poise when Cueto got hurt. Phillips, who made the final out of Halladay’s no-no, added an RBI single in the ninth for his third hit and the Reds scored another on a passed ball.
Reds skipper Dusty Baker earned an emotional win in his return to AT&T Park for the playoffs 10 years after managing the Giants within six outs of a World Series title before losing to the wild-card Angels. He’s also back on the top step of the dugout after rejoining the team this week following an 11-game absence while recovering from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat.
LeCure did his part to calm the team.
The right-hander earned the win with 1 2-3 innings before Baker turned to 14-game winner Mat Latos, who was seemingly unfazed at being forced into early duty. He allowed a home run to Posey during his four innings, but San Francisco managed little else against one of baseball’s best bullpens.
The 63-year-old Baker was greeted by a rousing ovation during pregame introductions from an orange-towel-waving sellout crowd of 43,492. The main centre-field scoreboard read “WELCOME BACK DUSTY GREAT TO SEE YOU BACK IN THE DUGOUT.”
Baker has vowed this team is something special — “They love each other and they hang together,” he said.
Latos began the third, going on three days’ rest, after pitching five innings Tuesday at St. Louis. While he had been set to go Game 3 on Tuesday in Cincinnati, the Reds said Cueto is day to day and certainly are hoping he’ll be ready later this series.
Posey homered to left leading off the sixth for San Francisco, drawing cheers of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” for the NL batting champion. It was his second career post-season home run and gave him a six-game post-season hitting streak dating to his 2010 Rookie of the Year season.
Cain was left to watch at that point, and he hardly looked happy visiting with manager Bruce Bochy in the dugout after being pulled before the bottom of the fifth for George Kontos.
He had everything in his favour, pitching from the very mound where he tossed the first perfect game in franchise history June 13 against the Astros. He won his final six decisions of the regular season dating to a loss at St. Louis on Aug. 6.
Chapman put runners on first and second in the ninth and Baker paid him a visit. One out later he walked Marco Scutaro before the Giants scored on a wild pitch. Posey struck out to end it.
Now, the Reds hope to get Cueto back later this series.
The right-hander threw a second strike to No. 2 hitter Scutaro and walked off the mound in obvious pain. A trainer and Baker rushed out to check on him, and Cueto came out moments later.
He retired leadoff man Angel Pagan on a strikeout. During the at-bat, Pagan stepped out of the batter’s box and was granted time. Cueto apparently didn’t see it and continued his motion.
He threw eight pitches and six strikes for the earliest post-season exit by a starter since Atlanta’s John Thomson lasted one-third of an inning in Game 3 of a 2004 NL division series against Houston. Thomson came out with a sore muscle in his left side.
Belt, the first baseman, flopped over the railing and into the fans to make a great catch on Zack Cozart’s foul popup in Cain’s 17-pitch first inning that ended with a 10-pitch strikeout of Joey Votto.