Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Giants 8, Reds 3

CINCINNATI — Angel Pagan connects on the second pitch of the game. A Giants team that finished last in homers goes on to hit three. Tim Lincecum pitches like a two-time Cy Young Award winner — out of the bullpen.

So many unusual things moved San Francisco to the verge of an unprecedented comeback.

Pagan hit the first leadoff homer in Giants postseason history, and Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later for an 8-3 victory over the Reds on Wednesday that evened their NL Division Series at two.

No team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three on the road, according to STATS LLC. This one can do it with a victory today at Great American Ball Park.

"Thanks to the win today, there will be a tomorrow," Pagan said. "And we are ready for that."

Facing elimination, the Giants' slumping hitters came out swinging 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 (Latos, today's starter) to come up with a big game. I'm looking forward to it."

So are the Giants, who were down after losing the first two games at home while getting outscored 14-2. They were barely able to get a hit, let alone a win.

The pressure pulled them closer. Hunter Pence gathered them for inspirational speeches before the two games in Cincinnati, challenging them to play like champions.

"We feel good," batting champion Buster Posey said. "When you're down 0-2 you see what you're made of. We're not done."

It wasn't all about the offense. San Francisco's overlooked Cy Young winner played a starring role, too.

Lincecum was relegated to the bullpen for this series after losing 15 and throwing 17 wild pitches in the regular season. He entered in the fourth inning, pitched out of a threat that kept the Giants up 3-2 and kept going. The right-hander struck out six and allowed one run in 41/3 innings.

"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" Wednesday.

The Giants normally don't hit many homers: only 103 during the season, fewest in the majors. They're only the seventh team since 1900 to reach the playoffs after finishing last in the majors in homers.

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