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10/10/2012 3:31 AM EDT
Zito has chance to pull Giants even with Reds
SAN FRANCISCO 2, CINCINNATI 1 (10 INNINGS)

By JOE KAY
AP Baseball Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Joaquin Arias hit the ball, put his head down
and ran. All he knew was that the Giants' season depended upon
how fast he made it to first.



"That's the fastest I've ever run to first," the infielder said.



He won the playoff dash, taking advantage of third baseman Scott
Rolen's momentary bobble to beat the throw. Arias' foot hit the
bag, and the Giants suddenly had a little hope.



After managing only one hit through the first nine innings, the
Giants took advantage of a passed ball and Rolen's error in the
10th inning for a 2-1 victory that cut the Cincinnati Reds' lead
in the division series to 2-1.



A team that's struggled just to get hits is suddenly feeling
like it has a chance against long odds. The Giants are trying to
become the first team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a
best-of-five series by winning three straight on the road.



"I think we have to be really happy that we came away with a win
tonight because we didn't swing the bats very well at all," said
Buster Posey, who singled as part of the winning rally.



The Giants have struggled the last two games against Bronson
Arroyo and Homer Bailey, managing a total of three hits in the
starters' 14 innings combined. They're not sure who's up next
for the Reds, who haven't won a home playoff game in 17 years
and now have a tough decision.



Left-hander Barry Zito will pitch Game 4 on Wednesday for San
Francisco, which has won the last 11 times he started. The Reds
had to decide whether to try ace Johnny Cueto, forced out of the
opener in San Francisco on Saturday with spasms in his back and
side.



Manager Dusty Baker said after the game that they hadn't decided
whether to go with Cueto, bring back Mat Latos on short rest
again, or replace Cueto with Mike Leake, who wasn't on the
division series roster.



Switching out Cueto would leave the Reds ace ineligible to pitch
in the championship series should the Reds 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."



They were hoping to avoid having to make that choice. One
grounder forced the issue.



The Giants managed only three hits against Bailey and the
bullpen, but got two of them in the 10th - along with a passed
ball by Ryan Hanigan - to pull it out. San Francisco won despite
striking out 16 times.



Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, couldn't cleanly field
Arias' grounder, which put him in a tough position.



"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 Reds haven't won a home playoff game since 1995, the last
time they reached the NL championship series. They scored a run
in the first, then managed only one more hit the rest of the
way, wasting another dominating performance by their pitching
staff.



The Reds set a season high with 16 strikeouts. Bailey matched
his career high by fanning 10 in seven innings, a franchise
playoff record. He allowed only one single.



San Francisco's one-hit wonders finally got it going against
Jonathan Broxton, who gave up leadoff singles by Posey - the NL
batting champion - and Hunter Pence, who pulled his left calf on
a wild swing before getting his hit.



With two outs, Hanigan couldn't come up with a pitch, letting
the runners advance. Moments later, Cincinnati's chance for a
sweep was over when Rolen bobbled the ball.



A Reds team that lost a lot - closer Ryan Madson in spring
training, top hitter Joey Votto for six weeks at midseason,
Baker for the NL Central clincher, Cueto in the first inning of
the first playoff game - ended up with another playoff loss at
home.



Baker was back in the home dugout at Great American for the
first time in nearly a month, recovered from an irregular
heartbeat and a mini-stroke. After a pregame ovation, he settled
in his red folding chair with a toothpick on his lips.



The 63-year-old manager watched his pitching staff dominate
again, but fail to get that breakthrough win.



The second-largest crowd in Great American history was still
getting the hang of playoff rooting. A video board message
instructed the 44,501 fans not to wave white rally towels while
the Reds were in the field - could be distracting.



Didn't take long to get those towels twirling. Brandon Phillips
led off with a single, but was thrown out at third when he tried
to advance on a ball that got away from Posey. It was costly -
the Reds went on to score on a walk and a pair of singles,
including Jay Bruce's RBI hit to right.



NOTES: The game started 3 minutes late because a sign-waving fan
ran onto the field. He was tackled by police in center field.
... Giants avoided their third playoff sweep in franchise
history. ... The Giants haven't lost three in a row since they
dropped five straight from July 25-30. ... Tom Browning, who
pitched the Reds' previous no-hitter - a perfect game against
the Dodgers in 1988 - threw the ceremonial pitch. ... Bailey
fanned six in a row, matching the Reds' postseason record. ...
The only larger crowd at GABP was for the 2010 playoff game
against Philadelphia.



---



Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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