Giants complete stunning comeback, defeat Reds 6-4 to win series

Buster Posey's grand slam was the big blow in a six-run fifth inning and Sergio Romo survived a ninth-inning Reds rally; the Giants are headed to the NLCS.

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Report: Scott Rolen likely retiring

Scott Rolen made the last out of the 2012 NLDS, which might have been the last at-bat of his career.


Giants beat Reds 6-4 in decisive Game 5

The San Francisco Giants did all their scoring in the fifth inning, highlighted by Buster Posey's grand slam, to complete their improbable Division Series comeback against the Cincinnati Reds and advance to the National League Championship Series.


Giants escape another jam, head to 9th

The Reds have had their chances, as they put the tying run at the plate in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. But now they'll have just three outs to score three runs.

Jeremy Affeldt was supposed to start the inning, but he was standing on the top step of the dugout in the top-half of the inning, and he fell down the stairs when Gregor Blanco lined a foul ball right at him. That forced Bruce Bochy to bring in Javier Lopez to face Jay Bruce, and Bruce bounced to first.

But Scott Rolen fisted a pitch out to center for a bloop single, and after Ryan Hanigan lined out to Brandon Crawford, who made a great diving play, Todd Frazier came up. Frazier looked uncomfortable with the first two strikes he saw against Santiago Casilla, and, heck, he looked uncomfortable on the slider he eventually hit for a single:

That put runners on first and second with two outs, and Bochy went to his closer, Sergio Romo against switch-hitter Dioner Navarro, who lofted a sinking liner to right:

That was Angel Pagan with the rally-killing catch, and the Reds' season contains just three more outs unless they can score three runs in the ninth.


Giants escape jam in 7th, cling to 6-3 lead

Somewhere in this great country of ours, a young lad, new to baseball, silently thought, "Well, this game is over!" after Buster Posey's grand slam.

It is most certainly not over. The Reds charged back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth, and they tacked on another in the sixth on Ryan Ludwick's solo home run. But they left runners on base when Ryan Hanigan took a (questionable) called-third strike, and Jay Bruce was thrown out on a strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play.

Ludwick had another chance in the bottom of the seventh, though. Brandon Phillips hit a one-out single, and with two outs, Joey Votto chopped an infield hit up the middle to bring up Ludwick. The Giants stuck with left-hander Jeremy Affeldt against Ludwick.

In the eight pitch of the at-bat, including a couple of hittable pitches up in the zone, Ludwick grounded back to Affeldt to end the inning.

In other news, I can't feel my fingers, so any typos up there aren't my fault.


Reds score once in 6th, but squander big chance

Teams that lead 6-0 in the fifth inning wind up winning 96.3 percent of the time.

Teams that lead 6-0 in the fifth inning, and have their best pitcher on the mound, win 98.7 percent of the time.

That's just science.

Or would be, if those numbers weren't made up. If you find the real numbers, though, that won't be terribly different. Good teams with good pitchers don't blow six-run leads. Not often enough that you would notice, anyway.

So when the Giants took a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning, with Matt Cain on their side, you had to guess the Reds were probably toast in this winner-take-all Game 5. Suddenly, though, the Reds are looking like a slice of bread's that been put in the toaster, but with the toaster on bagel setting; one side's brown and crusty, but the other still freshly white

Or to put this in words that actually make sense, the Reds have

In the bottom of the fifth, Brandon Phillips made it 6-2 with a two-run double. And in the sixth, Cain got into more trouble. Heaping trouble.

Ryan Ludwick led off and hit a ball very hard:


One swing, and it was 6-3.

After falling behind in the count 1-and-2, Jay Bruce drew a walk.

After falling behind in the count 0-and-2, Scott Rolen eventually singled.

Ryan Hanigan got ahead in the count, 2-and-0, and Cain started throwing him strikes and Hanigan kept fouling them off. With the count full, Cain threw his most important pitch in 2012, a fastball that just clipped the edge of the strike zone, down and away. Hanigan let it go, and it could have been called a ball but wasn't. Even worse for the Reds, Dusty Baker had both runners moving with the pitch, and Buster Posey didn't have any trouble throwing out Bruce at third base for the inning's second out.

That last pitch to Hanigan was Cain's 96th, and he'd thrown plenty in the inning already, so Bruce Bochy came out and got him. George Kontos came in, and retired Zack Cozart on a grounder to end the threat.

It could have been a HUGE inning for the Reds. Instead they scored just once. In the top of the seventh, Sean Marshall needed only five pitches to dispose of the Giants. After the stretch, the Reds get another shot to make it close.


Reds get two back on Phillips double, down 6-2

After the Giants exploded for six runs in the top of the fifth inning, Matt Cain hit the first batter he faced. That's never a good sign.

Whether it was adrenaline, nerves, sitting on the bench for too long, or just one of those things, the Matt Cain that came out with a lead was different than the Matt Cain who was pitching in a tie game. After hitting Ryan Hanigan, Cain allowed a line-drive single to Drew Stubbs. Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey popped up to first for the first out.

Then Cain threw a high fastball to Brandon Phillips, who has been one of the hottest hitters for the Reds this series. Phillips didn't miss it. He also didn't miss his helmet:

The double scored two, making it 6-2, and it put the Reds in a position to score more. But Zack Cozart flew out to center, and Joey Votto hit a grounder up the middle, right to Brandon Crawford, who was positioned behind the bag before the pitch.

Threat over, but the Reds got within a grand slam of their own, which probably did wonders for their outlook for the rest of the game.


Posey's grand slam busts game open, Giants up 6-0

Mat Latos was pitching fantastically, painting the strike zone, and trying to take advantage of a Tom Hallion strike zone that had just a little width early in the game. But it didn't have a lot of room low in the zone, as he found out.

After Gregor Blanco led off the inning with a single, light-hitting shortstop Brandon Crawford took two close pitches. Super close. Hoooo, so close:


Another game, another umpire, and Crawford is down 0-2. Instead he got to sit fastball, and he got one:

That was a triple, and it scored Blanco from first. Matt Cain hit one back to Latos for the first out of the inning, but an Angel Pagan chopper to Zack Cozart led to an adventure:

It would have been a tough play to get Crawford coming from third, but it was still an error to put the Giants up 2-0.

Marco Scutaro walked on four pitches -- again, just out of the zone -- and Pablo Sandoval lined a single to left to load the bases for Buster Posey.

Buster Posey will almost certainly be the MVP in the National League. But if they voted after the playoffs started, he might be unanimous:

That's a grand slam, and it landed at Progressive Field. It was the last pitch that Latos threw in the game, as he gave way to Sam LeCure.

Of note: I think Ryan Hanigan knew the ball had a chance to get out."


Latos: Don't get too comfortable up there, Panda.

In the top of the fourth, Pablo Sandoval led off against Mat Latos. Here's what happened on Latos's third pitch:



Three pitches later, Sandoval grounded out to first. Next, Latos retired Buster Posey on a fly to center. Hunter Pence reached on an infield hit -- a higher chopper up the middle that Brandon Phillips could only put in his pocket -- but Latos got out of the inning by striking out Brandon Belt with a full-count fastball.

So we're still scoreless in the bottom of the fourth.


Latos, Cain cruising through 3

Umpire Tom Hallion might be the most Frank Drebin of all the working umpires today. When he gets to call a third strike, he recognizes it's an opportunity that he should never, ever take for granted, and he goes nuts.

And early on, his strike zone is a touch wide on both sides, but it's not egregious. And with Cain and Latos known for their command, this has the makings of a fast-paced game.

It's worth noting that this is Hallion's reputation -- Baseball Prospectus has Hallion's strikeouts-per-nine at 30 out of 82 major-league umpires, which jibes with his strike zone today -- a little on the pitchers' side, but certainly reasonable.

So now the Giants and Reds have a tough task: They're facing pitchers who throw strikes, but who can also go just outside the strike zone. Through three innings, that paradigm has played out exactly like you would expect.


Cain works around Panda's error, Game 5 scoreless

This might become the first real pitchers' duel of what might have been a series full of them; after two innings, the game is scoreless and both starting pitchers, Mathew Latos and Matthew Cain, have looked sharp. Early on, though, Cain hasn't been getting a great deal of help from his defense. In the bottom of the first, Zack Cozart reached on an infield single that might have been turned into an out.

And in the bottom of the second, Scott Rolen led off and reached safely on this play:


You'll get 'em next time, Panda.

No problem for Cain, though. The next batter, Ryan Hanigan, rolled into an easy 6-4-3 double play. And Cain finished off the Reds by striking out Drew Stubbs looking.

Heading into the third inning, this one's still scoreless.


Tom Hallion is in midseason form



Latos, Cain escape early jams in 1st inning

Mat Latos opened the first inning of Game 5 with an impressive, fastballs-only strikeout of Angel Pagan, and the initial fear of the Giants was confirmed: Oh, it's going to be that Latos, the one who can paint the corners with mid-90s stuff. Goodie.

But the Giants got two runners on, with Marco Scutaro rapping a single to left, and Pablo Sandoval punching an opposite-field single. The Giants were set up well for Buster Posey and Level 61 Fiery Orator Hunter Pence, but both popped up to shallow center on high fastballs, and Latos escaped the jam.

Matt Cain started the bottom of the first by getting Brandon Phillips to break his bat on a soft fly to center, but Zack Cozart dribbled an infield hit in front of Joey Votto, who walked. Cain was in the same situation that Latos was in -- two on, one out -- but he got Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce to strike out swinging.


Scott Rolen back in Dusty Baker's lineup

The Cincinnati Reds have posted their lineup for Thursday afternoon's Division Series elimination game against the San Francisco Giants.

Manager Dusty Baker has returned to the lineup that earned his team victories in Games 1 and 2. This means that rookie Todd Frazier is back on the bench in favor of veteran Scott Rolen, whose costly error in Game 3 made tonight's rubber match possible. Also back in the lineup is catcher Ryan Hanigan, who sat out Game 4 while Dioner Navarro played.

2. Zack Cozart - SS
3. Joey Votto* - 1B
4. Ryan Ludwick - LF
5. Jay Bruce* - RF
6. Scott Rolen - 3B
7. Ryan Hanigan - C
8. Drew Stubbs - CF
9. Mat Latos - P

The Reds knocked Matt Cain out after five innings in Game 1 and hope to do the same in Game 5. They also hope to avoid becoming the first National League team to blow a 2-0 series lead in a Division Series. Game time is set for 1 p.m. Eastern. The game will be broadcast on TBS.
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