Giants beat Reds 6-4 in dramatic Game 5, advance to NLCS

Andy Lyons - Getty Images

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.

Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati, the San Francisco Giants beat the Reds 6-4 in Game 5 of their Division Series, and became the first to win a best-of-five postseason series by winning three straight road games after losing the first two at home.

Early on, it looked like we might finally see the pitchers' duel we hadn't seen earlier in the series, as San Francisco's Matt Cain and Cincinnati's Mat Latos matched zeroes through four innings.

In the top of the fifth, Latos simply fell apart.

Gregor Blanco led off with a single. Brandon Crawford, who bats eighth in the lineup for a reason, came up next and took a couple of pitches for called balls. Both were borderline pitches, and that's probably being somewhat charitable to plate umpire Tom Hallion. But with the count 2-and-0, Latos threw a fastball through the heart of the strike zone. Even Brandon Crawford doesn't often miss those, and he drove this one into the right-fielder corner for a triple.

Then, a respite: Matt Cain came up, and hit an easy comebacker to Latos. With Crawford still on third base and the Reds' infield still in, Angel Pagan hit a chopper to shortstop Zack Cozart. With Crawford running on contact, Cozart's play was the easy out at first base. But his first move was to set up for a throw home, and when he dropped the ball everyone was safe.

Latos walked Marco Scutaro on four pitches, and Pablo Sandoval lined a single past Cozart into left field, with Pagan stopping at third base. That brought up MVP candidate Buster Posey with the bases loaded, and on a 2-and-2 count Latos got way too much of the plate and this happened (you can't see what happens to the ball, but if you watch the catcher you'll figure it out) ...

Sadslam

Grand slam. Giants 6, Reds 0. Mat Latos's day was done. Fair or not, there have long been questions about Latos's temperament. Game 5 of this National League Division Series isn't going to end those questions.

With Cain having pitched so well, that single swing seemed to almost end the game.

It didn't. Not literally and, for a stretch anyway, not intellectually or emotionally. Because in the bottom of the fifth, Brandon Phillips drilled a two-run double to make the score 6-2. And in the sixth, the Reds mounted a serious threat to the Giants' lead. In the event, they picked up just one run, largely because Cain made a perfect pitch to strike out Ryan Hanigan. Well, perfect according to umpire Tom Hallion anyway.

Koutthrowout

And on that same pitch, Dusty Baker had two baserunners moving, and one of them was thrown out trying to steal third base. Had that pitch been called a ball, Hanigan would have walked and the Reds would have had the bases loaded with nobody out; instead, they had a runner on second base with two outs. Outside of Posey's home run, that was the biggest moment in the biggest game that either of these teams has played all season.

Cain was lifted, and reliever George Kontos got the next guy out to end the rally.

The Reds would threaten again, and seriously; in both the seventh and eighth innings, they got the tying run to the plate -- but each time the bullpen held the line. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, closer Sergio Romo trotted in from the bullpen and retired pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro on ... well, let's give Angel Pagan some credit for this one, shall we?

Sfcatch2

Romo returned for the ninth. After retiring Brandon Phillips on a foul pop, Romo walked Zack Cozart. Gave up a single to Joey Votto. Gave up another single, this one driving home Cozart, to Ryan Ludwick.

Next up: Jay Bruce, perfectly capable of ending Game 5 with one swing. And as if we'd not already seen enough drama, this sequence:

foul
foul
ball
foul

foul
foul
foul
foul

ball
foul
ball

That last ball probably should have been strike three instead of ball three. But with the next pitch, the 12th in the sequence, Bruce lifted an easy fly to left field, where Gregor Blanco gathered it in.

In Game 5, the Giants did all their scoring in one inning, and the Reds had more baserunners. In this series, no Giants starter lasted longer than 5⅔ innings. But none of that makes a lick of difference. The Giants made some history, and Sunday they'll get a shot at making more, against either the Cardinals or the Nationals.

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