Third baseman Scott Rolen's two-out error in the 10th inning gave the Giants the go-ahead run Tuesday night in a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, who couldn't shake 17 years of home postseason futility.
The Giants avoided a sweep in Game 3, cutting their deficit to 2-1.
Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, couldn't come up with Joaquin Arias' short-hop grounder, bobbled it and threw late to first.
The Giants managed only three hits against Homer Bailey and Reds relievers, but got two of them in the 10th - along with a passed ball by Ryan Hanigan - to pull it out. San Francisco won despite striking out 16 times.
Cincinnati finished with four hits, just one after the first inning.
Left-hander Barry Zito will pitch Game 4 on Wednesday for the Giants, who have won the last 11 times he started. The Reds have to decide whether to try ace Johnny Cueto, forced out of the opener in San Francisco on Saturday with spasms in his back and side.
The Reds haven't won a home playoff game since 1995, the last time they reached the NL championship series. One win away from making it back there, they couldn't beat a Giants team that has barely been able to get a hit.
Didn't need many in this one.
Bailey made his first start at Great American Ball Park since his Sept. 28 no-hitter in Pittsburgh and allowed only one hit in seven innings, the latest dominating performance by a Reds starter. Marco Scutaro singled in the sixth for the only hit off Bailey.
Fortunately for the Giants, Bailey's one lapse let to a run. He hit a batter, walked another and gave up a sacrifice fly by Angel Pagan in the third inning.
That was it until the 10th, with the Giants going down swinging - the Reds set a season high for strikeouts. Closer Aroldis Chapman got a pair of strikeouts on 100 mph fastballs during a perfect ninth inning, keeping it tied at 1.
San Francisco's one-hit wonders finally got it going against Jonathan Broxton, who gave up leadoff singles by Buster Posey - the NL batting champion - and Hunter Pence, who pulled his left calf on a wild swing before getting his hit.
With two outs, Hanigan couldn't come up with a pitch, letting the runners advance. Arias' tough-chance grounder then put Rolen in a tough spot - charging the ball for a quick short-hop swipe. He couldn't come up with it cleanly, and Arias beat the throw.
No sweep this time. Instead, a Reds team that lost a lot - closer Ryan Madson in spring training, top hitter Joey Votto for six weeks at midseason, manager Dusty Baker for the NL Central clincher, Cueto in the first inning of the first playoff game - ended up with another playoff loss at home.
Baker was back in the home dugout at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday for the first time in nearly a month, recovered from an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. After a pregame ovation, he settled in his red folding chair with a toothpick on his lips.
The 63-year-old manager watched his pitching staff dominate again, but fail to get that breakthrough win.
Cincinnati's hadn't won a home playoff game since 1995, when the Reds beat the Dodgers 10-1 at Riverfront Stadium for a three-game division sweep. They then got swept by Atlanta.
The Reds' next brush with the postseason came in 1999, when they lost a one-game playoff for the wild card to Al Leiter and the Mets. They finally made in 2010 with a young team that got no-hit by Roy Halladay and swept by the Phillies in the opening round.
The second-largest crowd in Great American history was still getting the hang of playoff rooting. A video board message instructed the 44,501 fans not to wave white rally towels while the Reds were in the field - could be distracting.
Didn't take long to get those towels twirling. Brandon Phillips led off with a single, but was thrown out at third when he tried to advance on a ball that got away from Posey. It was costly - the Reds went on to score on a walk and a pair of singles, including Jay Bruce's RBI hit to right.
The Reds got only one more hit the rest of the way.
NOTES: The game started 3 minutes late because a sign-waving fan ran onto the field. He was tackled by police in center field. ... Giants avoided their third playoff sweep in franchise history. ... The Giants haven't lost three in a row since they dropped five straight from July 25-30. ... Tom Browning, who pitched the Reds' previous no-hitter - a perfect game against the Dodgers in 1988 - threw the ceremonial pitch. ... Bailey fanned six in a row, matching the Reds' postseason record. ... The only larger crowd at GABP was for the 2010 playoff game against Philadelphia.
Live blog of today's game below...
Update 6:20 p.m. Romo sets 'em down and that's the ole ballgame. The Giants live to play another day -- tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Update 5:55 p.m. Posey singles, here comes Pence. He hits one by the third baseman! Could this be a rally? Belt is up. He whiffs. Lincecum is throwing in the bullpen. Nady goes down swinging -- that's 15 big strikeouts for Cinci pitchers vs. San Francisco.
The runners move up on a wild pitch -- now 2nd and 3rd. Arias hits a chopper to multiple Gold Glove winner Scott Rolen -- he can't handle it, and the Giants score!
But there's nobody left on the bench, and Romo has to hit. Romo with four lifetime at bats and no hits. It doesn't go well, and we're onto the bottom of the 10th with the Giants trying to hold onto their slim lead.
Update 6:20 p.m. That's the ole ballgame folks. Romo sets 'em down and the Giants stay alive.
Update 5:50 p.m.Romo sets them down 1-2-3. And we go to extra innings. To answer our earlier question as to who's left on the Giants' bench: just Hector Sanchez.
Update 5:45 p.m. It's nothing doing for the Giants in the 9th. Now the Reds can win it with one big swing of the bat, as they say, or a combination of smaller swings as well. It'll be Rolen, Hanigan and Stubbs.
Update 5:25 p.m. A looong fly ball to center. Pagan flags it down on warning track. Here comes Votto. Jo-ey, Jo-ey the crowd chants. He works out a walk. Here's Ludwick, who's one for two and a walk. But the Reds go down, and we're onto the 9th.
Update 5:15 p.m. Bochy's going with three pinch hitters in a row -- he's pulling out whatever stops he has. That's what happens when your team has one hit. Nady strikes out, Arias flies out. Theriot grounds out. Who's now left on the Giants' bench?
Update 5:05 p.m. The Reds are pinch hitting for Bailey. That can't hurt the Giants chances. Bailey had only thrown 88 pitches, but Dusty's going for some offense. The Reds go down scoreless, though, and we're onto the 8th, with the Giants needing a run real bad in this road game.
Update 5 p.m. Posey, Pence, Belt are due up. I wonder if any of them are wondering what's going on at the Mirkarimi vote? Probably not. One-two-three -- that's the way the Giants go. Bailey's thrown roughly 90 pitches, and he's still dealing. Here comes the 7th-inning stretch.
Update 4:50 p.m. Affeldt's now in the game. He hits Jay Bruce, then Rolen hits a slow roller to third for an infield hit. On ESPN Radio, they're saying Sandoval should have let the ball go to see if it rolled foul. First and second, two out. Hanigan grounds out, and we go to the 7th, still tied.
Update 4:35 p.m. 2010 stalwart Aubrey Huff pinch hits for Vogelsong. Huff whiffs. Six Ks in a row for Bailey. Pagan grounds out to 2B, ending the streak. Scutaro breaks the schneid by banging a single. But the Panda flies out, and the score remains 1-1.
Update 4:30 p.m. The Reds go quietly. Now the Giants contine in their quest for a base hit.
Update at 4:15 p.m.: The score is tied 1-1. Bailey's K'd
four five Giants in a row. He's got a no-hitter going to boot, even though the Giants have scored a run.
Update at 3:40 p.m: Gregor Blanco scored the first run for the Giants on a sacrifice fly by Angel Pagan in the top of the third inning.
Update at 3:20 p.m: Reds pitcher Homer Bailey has struck out a bunch of Giants. We're in the bottom of the second.
Update at 3:05 p.m: Zack Cozert scored for the Reds in the bottom of the first inning on a single by Jay Bruce.
Update at 2:46 p.m: In the top of the first inning the Giants never got on base. Ryan Vogelsong is now pitching to the Reds.
So you can't be in Cincinnati -- or even in your own living room -- to watch the Giants do-or-die game against the Reds. Instead you're stuck at work. Don't worry, we'll post some highlights here so you can sneak a peak in between your spreadsheets and conference calls.
Manager Bruce Bochy named right-handed pitcher Ryan Vogelsong his Game 3 starter.
Tim Lincecum is a reliever for the time being, two years after he pitched the Giants' Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas. The struggling two-time NL Cy Young Award winner was available out of the bullpen for San Francisco in Game 2.
Lincecum started Game 5 of the 2010 NL championship series then pitched in relief in Game 6 following a day off. Otherwise, the right-hander hasn't been a reliever.
Bochy called it a tough decision.
Later today, the A's take on a similar challenge against the Detroit Tigers.