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10/07/2012 2:35 AM EDT
Reds lose ace, win first playoff game in 17 years
CINCINNATI 5, SAN FRANCISCO 2
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Brandon Phillips still sees the highlights
of his weak grounder for the final out in Roy Halladay's
no-hitter of the Cincinnati Reds in an embarrassing playoff
opener two years ago.
Now, Phillips and the Reds have their own memorable winning
playoff moment. After losing their ace, no less.
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 Cincinnati was powered by home runs from
Phillips and Jay Bruce to beat the Giants 5-2 in Game 1 of the
NL division series Saturday night.
Phillips hit a two-run homer in the third, and Bruce added a
solo drive leading off the fourth as the Reds overcame the
departure of their 19-game winner after just eight pitches.
Phillips added an RBI single in the ninth for his third hit and
the Reds scored another on a passed ball. This one takes some of
the sting out of that short-lived 2010 run.
"I still see it now. They always show it on TV. They show me on
TV making the last out, and it kind of (stinks)," Phillips said.
"But honestly I'm glad it did happen."
Aroldis Chapman gave up a run in the ninth on a wild pitch but
struck out Buster Posey with a 100 mph fastball to end it with
runners on second and third.
San Francisco's Matt Cain allowed his first career postseason
earned runs after going untouched during the Giants' improbable
World Series season of 2010.
That same year, Cincinnati was swept out of the first round by
the Phillies after getting no-hit by Halladay. This time, the
Reds clobbered Cain and played on with poise when Cueto got
"The pitch to Bruce wasn't too terrible but the hanging breaking
ball to Phillips is just something that you don't want to happen
in a big-game situation like this," Cain said.
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.
Game 2 is Sunday night, with right-hander Bronson Arroyo (12-10)
taking the ball for the Reds against San Francisco lefty Madison
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 appeared unfazed at
being forced into early duty on three days' rest. He allowed a
home run to Posey during his four innings, but San Francisco
managed little else against one of baseball's best bullpens.
"We were just fortunate to win that game, like the way we did
tonight, and you got to give big props to Latos," Baker said.
"Here is a guy sitting back, relaxed, thinking he was going to
pitch next week at home and now all of the sudden, boom, this is
his first playoff game. It was a great feat by him."
Latos - a longtime Giants nemesis during his Padres days - threw
a 20-pitch bullpen session before the game. When pitching coach
Bryan Price checked with Latos, he made it clear he could go,
then went up to the clubhouse to grab his spikes. He came in to
boos from all directions.
"I felt real comfortable. It's a team I've pitched well against
and I've pitched against a lot," Latos said. "I'm glad I got the
loudest boo. It's been weak for the last couple years."
The Reds set a club record this year as all five starters made
it through the season without getting injured - and they used
their sixth starter for a doubleheader.
Other Cincinnati clubs might not have had it in them to
withstand losing a starter like Cueto. The Reds have had a tough
go come playoff time.
But Baker has long been confident in the "fight" of this bunch,
which already dealt with losing Ryan Madson and two other
relievers before the season started.
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 center 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.
The Reds had dropped seven straight playoff games dating to
1995, when now-Nationals manager Davey Johnson and Cincinnati
were swept in the NL championship series by Atlanta.
"I swear, I don't know any of these numbers," Baker said when it
came up before the game. "You can't do anything about the last
17 years, whatever it is."
Latos began the third, working in relief for the first time
since the minors, 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.
"He didn't give us any sense of doubt he could do it," Price
said of Latos.
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 postseason home run and gave him a
six-game postseason 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.
The right-hander went 23 1-3 postseason innings without allowing
an earned run, fifth-longest in major league history.
But two of Cain's five defeats this season were lopsided losses
against the Reds - 9-2 and 5-0 - in which he allowed a total of
four home runs, eight earned runs and 16 hits in 13 innings.
He had everything in his favor, 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.
The Reds survived third baseman Scott Rolen's throwing error
that allowed Hunter Pence to reach starting the fourth. Brandon
Belt lined into a double play moments later and Latos got out
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.
But Baker said Cueto had felt some discomfort before the game
and was alerted by Price.
He threw eight pitches and six strikes for the earliest
postseason 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
"You hated to see anybody lose their starter, but they brought
in a good one, too," Bochy said.
NOTES: Bruce is .533 (8 for 15) lifetime vs. Cain. ... San
Francisco won Game 1 in each of its 2010 series - the division
series against Atlanta, NLCS vs. Philadelphia and the World
Series against the Rangers. ... The franchises faced each other
in the playoffs for the first time.
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