The Giants found a way to win tonight. They worked some road magic and kept the Reds champagne on ice. I am still not sure what happened, but Scott Rolen couldn't cleanly handle a ground ball from Joaquin Arias and Buster Posey crossed the plate with the go-ahead run in the 10th and the LDS heads to Game Four. It was a crazy ending to an agonizing game. Once again Cincinnati's starter overwhelmed the Giants lineup, this time Homer Bailey didn't give up a hit until the 6th (Marco Scutaro) and struck out ten in his seven innings. Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman mowed down the next six with three strikeouts, and even losing pitcher Jonathan Broxton struck out the side! It was an impressive display of offensive futility by the good guys, but it somehow worked out. Ryan Vogelsong was headed for a meltdown in the 1st but got a little help from Brandon Phillips who tried to take third after a stealing second on a ball that got away from Buster. He was thrown out and it turned out to be a big play. Two hits, a walk, and a run later and the Reds had 1-0 lead. That was it, though, as Vogie settled down and put up four zeroes, giving him the best start so far in the series for the Giants. They tied it up without a hit in the 3rd when Gregor Blanco was hit by a pitch to open the inning. He scored after a walk to Brandon Crawford, a sacrifice bunt by Vogie, and a sacrifice fly by Angel Pagan. It went to extras 1-1 mostly due to some fine bullpen work. Jeremy Affeldt threw an impressive 6th and 7th, Santiago Casilla got three outs in the 8th while scaring the crap out of us, and Sergio Romo got three harmless fly balls in the 9th to preserve the tie. It was a game more reminiscent of the 2009-2011 torture teams and not the run-scoring crew that blew away the rest of the West in 2012.
But the 10th! Craziness was everywhere. Buster and Hunter Pence opened the inning with singles, but that's not the whole story. Pence tweaked his calf on a swing and limped around for a while before getting back in the box. We were told later it was just a cramp, but at the time it looked like he might have to come out. The Giants had already used everyone except Hector Sanchez. Boch pinch-hit with Aubrey Huff in the 6th in Vogie's spot, used righties Xavier Nady and Ryan Theriot against the lefty Marshall (that's when Arias entered the game as well), so the only bat left was the backup catcher. Pence then singled on a ball I thought was a double play off the bat. He had tried to bunt earlier but looked bad so perhaps Bochy said "ah hell, swing away." It paid off, but he was obviously gimpy going down the line and had little chance of scoring on anything but a home run. Brandon Belt was not asked to sacrifice, a little surprising given the situation, and unfortunately whiffed. Nady followed with another whiff, and it looked like the decision not to bunt would fuel second-guessing for an entire off-season. In the post-game interview, Boch said he had not asked Belt to bunt all year, liked the lefty matchup against Broxton, and didn't like the lack of speed on the bases. I don't usually quibble with the manager's decisions these days, he's proved to me over the years that he's smart and knows his guys. Hey, it all worked out, so no grumbling allowed. Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan let a ball get past him and the runners moved up 90 feet, then Arias hit a chopper to third that Rolen could get on the first grab and it was enough for him to beat it out and bring in the run. Sergio Romo was the next batter. Dusty Baker elected not to walk Arias after the passed ball and force Boch to use his last hitter. Romo struck out comically--he looks like a bearded Little Leaguer when he holds a bat--but that was another great move that paid off. Sergio had it going on in the bottom of the 10th and retired the final three easily to nail down the win.
The Giants got three hits. They struck out 16 times. Their starter threw 30 pitches in the 1st inning and immediately put the team behind. They were 0-5 with runners in scoring position. They used Xavier Nady in left field.
And they won the game.
The Giants live to fight on. Another game. This time I'll miss it. The 1:00 p.m. start time (PDT) stinks--I'll be working and out in the field. I might catch the tail end on my way home. Here's hoping they keep finding a way to win.