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Phillips' big night helps Reds overcome loss of Cueto

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Phillips enjoys the playoff spotlight.

The Cincinnati second baseman hit a two-run homer, added an RBI single and finished 3-for-5 as the Reds beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2 Saturday night in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

"The whole world is watching," Phillips said. "This is a good time to be famous. You can be famous in a good way or a bad way. I know my family is watching, and I want to play well for them, my team and myself."

Phillips helped the Reds survive the loss of ace Johnny Cueto, who exited in the first inning due to back spasms.

Cueto said he felt a sharp pain in his right side on his final two pitches.

"When Johnny went down, I thought we were done," Phillips said. "I thought, 'Why? why?' But this was for Johnny. He was hurt and that sucked, but all you can do is battle."

Jay Bruce had two hits, including a solo homer, in helping the Reds earn their first postseason win in 17 years. He improved to 8-for-15 (.533) lifetime against Giants starter Matt Cain, who took the loss.

Buster Posey hit a home run for the Giants, who played their first postseason contest since beating the Texas Rangers in the World Series in 2010.

"This is one game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Sure, you hate to lose the opener at home, but we have a lot of baseball left."

Gregor Blanco and Posey had two hits apiece, but otherwise the Giants got little going against the Reds staff. They were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.

"We hit some balls hard," Bochy said. "I thought we had better at-bats than what it looked like. We came back with the tying run at the plate with some good hitters coming up."

Giants pitchers retired 12 of 13 Reds at one point, but the damage had been done.

The Reds couldn't have liked the way things began, as Cueto was forced to leave the game after retiring Angel Pagan and getting two quick strikes on Marco Scutaro in the first inning.

"I didn't feel good about it. I spoke to Johnny after the game, and he said he is better," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Johnny is usually pretty honest, so that gives us hope he will be back."

Sam LeCure, who was credited with the victory, calmed his team with 1 2/3 innings of one-hit relief. Cincinnati then went back to work, getting a two-run home run by Phillips in the third before Bruce went deep in the fourth.

"I sat on the curveball that whole at bat," Phillips said. "He left one up and I hit it. I thought 'OK, we got the momentum now."

Mat Latos took over in the third and continued the dominating pitching effort from the Reds. He threw four innings of one-run ball.

"Latos, it was his throwing day," Baker said. "I wanted LeCure first so he could give us a couple of innings to give Latos a chance to get ready mentally and plenty of time to get ready in the bullpen."

Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman each pitched an inning to finish off the Giants.

Cain went five innings, matching his shortest outings of the season. He allowed three runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Cain gave up his first postseason earned runs after 23 1/3 innings dating to 2010.

The Giants made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth. San Francisco loaded the bases with one out, getting Pablo Sandoval to the plate as the potential tying run. Chapman got two quick strikes on Sandoval before getting him to pop up to second baseman Phillips for the second out. After Joaquin Arias scored on a wild pitch, Posey struck out to end it.

NOTES: Reds manager Dusty Baker made a triumphant return to AT&T Park 10 years after leading the Giants to the seventh game of the 2002 World Series. Baker won his last postseason game in San Francisco -- Game 5 of that World Series, when his young son was scooped to safety by then-Giants first baseman J.T. Snow to avoid a collision at home plate. ... Reds pitcher Homer Bailey pinch-hit for LeCure in the third but struck out trying to bunt Drew Stubbs to second. ... Cain lasted five innings in five of his 32 regular-season starts. Three of those five outings came in September and October. ... Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo will be making his fourth Division Series appearance and third start when he takes the mound for Sunday's contest. He does not have a postseason decision. ... Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner will be making his second Division Series start Sunday. He beat the Atlanta Braves in 2010.
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