CINCINNATI (AP)—The only thing that stood between Noah Lowry and finishing the best overall performance of his brief career was a blister.
The left-hander was two outs from the third complete game of his career and first of the season when a blister on his left index finger forced him out of the game after striking out Ken Griffey, Jr., to start the ninth.
Scott Eyre relieved and, after completing a walk to Austin Kearns that was charged to Lowry, struck out Adam Dunn. LaTroy Hawkins came on and got Sean Casey to fly out to center fielder Randy Winn on the warning track for his sixth save, second with the Giants.
“Lowry was tremendous,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “He pitched four innings with that blister developing, but he kept going back and going back. We asked him if he wanted to come out, and he said, ‘No, I’ll just keep icing it and going back.”’
“It’s nothing serious,” Lowry said. “It’ll just take a couple of days to heal, and I’ll be ready in five days.”
The Giants improved to 5-4 on their season-long 13-game road trip with their fourth win in six games. A victory on Thursday would give them their first sweep of a four-game series in Cincinnati since May 1983.
The Reds, who have won 10 of their last 11 road games, dropped their fourth consecutive home game and have lost seven of their last nine in Cincinnati.
Lowry (9-11) went at least seven innings for the third time in his last three starts, all of which he won after going 1-4 in his previous five. He limited the National League’s highest-scoring team to seven hits and two runs, striking out seven. He walked one and matched Jason Schmidt for the team lead in wins while impressing Reds manager Jerry Narron.
“He’s a very good pitcher,” Narron said. “He’s not a thrower. He did a good job changing speeds and hitting both sides of the plate. He kept us off-balance.”
Lowry, who was hitting .282 going into the game, also played a key role in San Francisco’s three-run fifth that gave the Giants a 3-2 lead.
One out later, Lowry lined a single to left on a 0-2 pitch to drive in Linden from second with the game-tying run. The RBI was Lowry’s sixth of the season.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and make good contact,” Lowry said. “He left the ball up a little bit, and I got just enough of it.”
“That was the biggest at bat of the game,” Narron said. “I know Lowry’s a pretty good hitter, but you’ve got to bear down there.”
Lowry moved to third on Winn’s double, and after Omar Vizquel was hit by a pitch to load the bases, J.T. Snow walked to drive in Lowry and knock out Hudson. Todd Coffey came in to get Pedro Feliz to ground into an inning-ending forceout.
Hudson (4-6), who won his last three starts, went 4 2-3 innings, giving up four hits and three runs.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first when Rich Aurilia singled with one out, moved to third on Griffey’s sharp single to the base of the right-field wall and Kearns’ sacrifice fly.
Hudson led off the third with the first of three consecutive singles and scored on Griffey’s bases loaded sacrifice fly to give the Reds a 2-0 lead. Kearns lined into an inning-ending double play, and Lowry settled down, allowing two more hits.
“They put some good swings on some good pitches and found some holes,” Lowry said. “I decided to stick with my game plan and keep the ball down. I know this place plays short. All four of my pitches were working. I was able to establish my fastball on both sides of the plate, get ahead and stay ahead.”
Lowry had thrown 14 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings going into the game. … Feliz had hits in six consecutive at-bats over two games before flying out to end the fourth. … Reds SS Felipe Lopez has six hits over the last two games after going 2-for-38. … With a day game Thursday, Giants IF Deivi Cruz got the night off Wednesday despite setting a career high with five hits on Tuesday. … Eyre’s appearance was his major league-leading 64th.