Giants unable to pounce on Reds bullpen after Cueto exits with injury 

click to enlarge Over the alley: Reds slugger Jay Bruce trots past Giants catcher Buster Posey after drilling a solo home run to the deepest part of AT&T Park, Triples Alley. - JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES
  • Jeff Gross/Getty Images
  • Over the alley: Reds slugger Jay Bruce trots past Giants catcher Buster Posey after drilling a solo home run to the deepest part of AT&T Park, Triples Alley.

Despite an early injury to Cincinnati Reds starter Johnny Cueto, the Giants were unable to get their offense going as they dropped Game 1 of the National League Division Series 5-2 Saturday at AT&T Park.

Starter Matt Cain gave up the first runs of his postseason career, ending a 23²?³-inning scoreless streak. All three of the runs he allowed came on home runs — a two-run shot by Brandon Phillips in the third inning and a solo shot by Jay Bruce that landed in the arcade above Triples Alley in the fourth. Phillips later added an RBI single in the ninth.

“The pitch to Bruce wasn’t too terrible,” said Cain, is allowing Bruce to hit at a .533 clip (8-for-15) against him. “But the hanging breaking ball to Phillips is something you don’t want to happen, definitely in a big-game situation like this”

Cain was pulled from the game after just five innings and 75 pitches. He struck out four and walked one.

Matt Latos, who owned a career 2.19 ERA in 74 innings against the Giants coming into the game, got the  lion’s share of the outs for the Reds to earn the win. He came in to start the third inning and pitched four innings, giving up just one run on a home run by Buster Posey.

The Giants left 12 runners on base and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

The Giants’ first chance for a rally came in the second inning. With the game still scoreless, three Giants making their first postseason plate appearances reached base when Brandon Belt walked, Gregor Blanco doubled, and Brandon Crawford was walked intentionally. Cain came up with the bases loaded and two out, but lined the first pitch he saw into right-center field, where Bruce tracked it down.

The Giants made one final push against closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, when Pablo Sandoval came up with the bases loaded and one out. Sandoval popped out to second, and Joaquin Arias scored on a wild pitch with Posey at the plate. Chapman rallied to strike out Posey to end the game.

The Giants hitters wouldn’t let the unexpected pitching change stand as an excuse for their offensive struggles, however.

“It’s one of those things that you just deal with,” Posey said. “Obviously we didn’t expect it. We’ve faced both those guys, we expected to face both of them so it’s not like Latos wasn’t going to pitch later in the series later anyway.”

The injury to Cueto — who left with back spasms after throwing just eight pitches — and the appearance by Latos means manager Dusty Baker likely will adjust his rotation for Tuesday’s Game 3 of the series, when he had hoped to use Latos’ ability to strike out opposing hitters to help neutralize the smaller dimensions of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.

“You hated to see anybody lose their starter, but they brought in a good one, too,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Latos.

Notes: 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw out the first pitch while wearing a Cain jersey and Giants cap. Smith bounced the pitch in front of Sergio Romo, perhaps trying to stop the clock. … Game 2 is today at 6:30 p.m. Madison Bumgarner will start for the Giants, while Bronson Arroyo gets the nod for the Reds. ... Bochy has yet to tab a starter for Game 3, leading many to speculate that two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum may be bullpen-bound.

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Monday, Jun 29, 2015

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