CINCINNATI — Hardly able to get a hit, the San Francisco Giants used a misplayed grounder to prolong their NL Division Series.
Cincinnati third baseman Scott Rolen’s two-out error in the 10th inning gave the Giants the go-ahead run Tuesday night in a 2-1 victory over the Reds, who couldn’t shake 17 years of home postseason futility.
With the win, San Francisco avoided a sweep in Game 3, cutting its NL Division Series deficit to 2-1.
Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, couldn’t come up with Joaquin Arias’ short-hop grounder, bobbled it and threw late to first.
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“I’ve gone through the play many times in my mind between then and now, and I think I would play it the same way,” Rolen said. “It hit my glove. I just couldn’t get it to stick.”
The Giants managed only three hits against Homer Bailey and Cincinnati’s relievers, but got two of them in the 10th to pull out the victory, despite striking out 16 times.
“We kept scratching and clawing down two games to none,” Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. “That’s the way it is in the playoffs.”
The Reds didn’t hit much better, finishing with four hits, and one after the first inning.
Left-hander Barry Zito will pitch Game 4 today for San Francisco, which has won the past 11 times he has started.
For Cincinnati, it’s more up in the air who will take the mound in Game 4.
Reds manager Dusty Baker said after the game Tuesday that there were effectively two candidates: Mat Latos or Mike Leake.
Latos would be forced to go on short rest after having to throw four innings of relief Saturday in Game 1 after Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto left the game in the first inning due to spasms in his back and side.
Deciding on Leake, however, who wasn’t on the Division Series roster, would mean having to take Cueto’s spot on the roster.
Replacing Cueto would, by rule, leave the Reds ace ineligible to pitch until the World Series should they get that far.
“It’s very difficult, but it all depends on if your ace can’t go or whatever it is,” Baker said. “That’s part of the conversation – us going without him. We realize what’s at stake.”
Cincinnati hasn’t won a home playoff game since 1995, the last time the Reds reached the NL Championship Series. One win away from making it back there, they couldn’t beat a Giants team that has barely been able to get a hit.
Bailey made his first start at Great American Ball Park since his Sept. 28 no-hitter in Pittsburgh and allowed only one hit in seven innings. Marco Scutaro singled in the sixth for the only hit off Bailey.
In the first inning, Cincinnati scored on Jay Bruce’s RBI hit to right.
The Reds got only one more hit the rest of the way and couldn’t capitalize on their pitchers throwing a season-high 16 strikeouts.
The Giants finally got their offense going against Jonathan Broxton, who gave up leadoff singles to Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.
With two outs, Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan allowed a passed ball, which allowed the runners to advance. Then Arias hit his tough-chance grounder that Rolen couldn’t come up with cleanly, allowing Arias to reach first and Posey to come in and score.