San Francisco, CA – Despite losing their ace in the first inning, the Cincinnati Reds got a decent effort from their bullpen and won the opener of their National League Division Series.
Johnny Cueto exited with back spasms after making just eight pitches, but the Reds got homers from Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce to hold off the San Francisco Giants, 5-2, at AT&T Park.
Sam LeCure (1-0), Mat Latos, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton combined to allow one run. Latos, who was expected to start Game 3, yielded four hits, including a homer to Buster Posey, over four innings.
Aroldis Chapman had trouble in the final inning and gave up a run on a wild pitch before fanning Posey to end the game.
Phillips drove in three runs for the NL Central champions, who had lost their previous seven playoff games. They were swept in the division series two years ago by the Philadelphia Phillies and were whitewashed by the Atlanta Braves in the 1995 NLCS. This was Cincinnati's first postseason win in exactly 17 years. The Reds completed a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series on Oct. 6, 1995.
The NL West champion Giants went 0-for-5 with men in scoring position and left 11 runners on base.
Game 2 of this best-of-five series is Sunday night in San Francisco. Bronson Arroyo is slated to start on the mound for the Reds against Madison Bumgarner.
Cueto struck out Angel Pagan to begin the bottom of the first inning, but the 19-game winner was removed from the game in favor of LeCure after delivering a pair of strikes to Marco Scutaro.
LeCure escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning by retiring Giants starter Matt Cain (0-1) on a line drive to right field.
The Reds say Cueto is day-to-day, meaning he could swap places with Latos for Game 3. Latos, who was expected to start Tuesday, entered the game in the third inning with the Reds holding a 2-0 lead courtesy of Phillips' two-run homer in the top portion, a one-out shot to left-center field with Drew Stubbs aboard.
Bruce homered to right-center field to start the fourth inning and first baseman Joey Votto made a sparkling defensive play in the bottom half. Hunter Pence was on base following Scott Rolen's throwing error. Brandon Belt lined a ball that was destined for right field, but Votto made the leaping grab and completed the double play.
Posey hit the first pitch of the San Francisco sixth over the wall in left field. He singled and Belt walked in the eighth, but Broxton came back to get Gregor Blanco looking at a third strike to cap the frame.
Santiago Casilla had a shaky top of the ninth. He would have been out of the inning, but pinch-hitter Xavier Paul broke his bat on a bloop single to right- center field, which put runners at the corners. Phillips then lined an RBI single to right field. A wild pitch moved two runners into scoring position, and Paul scored when Posey failed to grab an inside pitch from Casilla.
Chapman suffered from control problems early on as pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias singled and pinch-hitter Xavier Nady walked. Pagan popped out to catcher Ryan Hanigan on the infield-fly rule and Scutaro walked to load the bases. Pablo Sandoval popped out before Chapman's high pitch clipped Hanigan's glove, leading to the second run.
The Giants opened the postseason at home for the third consecutive time ... Cain entered the game having not allowed an earned run in 21 1/3 innings, the second-longest streak in Giants franchise history, short of Christy Mathewson's 28 frames.