CINCINNATI – Facing elimination again, the San Francisco Giants came out swinging. Got a saving relief appearance from Tim Lincecum, too.
Angel Pagan led off the game with a home run, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later and the Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Wednesday, evening their N.L. 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. “And I know of other situations where starters have been in the ’pen and really done a great job to help their team win. We knew Timmy would play a critical role in the series like he did tonight.”
The Giants can complete an unprecedented comeback today. No team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-5 series by winning three on the road, according to STATS LLC.
“Thanks to the win today, there will be a tomorrow,” Pagan said. “And we are ready for that.”
Matt Cain, who lost the series opener and has yet to beat the Reds in three tries this season, will start Game 5 against Mat Latos.
The Giants’ hitters emerged from a series-long slump and extended Cincinnati’s playoff misery. The Reds haven’t won a postseason game at home in 17 years.
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. “We’re at home. I expect Mat to come up with a big game. I’m looking forward to it.”
The Reds were hoping to start ace Johnny Cueto, but had to drop him off the roster a few hours before Wednesday’s first pitch because he was still bothered by a strained muscle in his right side. He won’t be available if Cincinnati wins Game 5 and reaches the N.L. championship series.
The Giants broke out against Mike Leake, who replaced Cueto and had a rough time.