NLDS Game 3: Giants stay alive after Scott Rolen error leads to extra inning win

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Score and situation: They struck out 16 times and managed only three hits, but somehow and some way, the San Francisco Giants clawed their way to a 2-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds in 10 innings on Tuesday night. The NLDS Game 3 victory at Great American Ballpark shot down Cincinnati's chance at a sweep and forced Wednesday's Game 4 with the Reds leading the series two games to one.    

Leading lads: It took over 27 innings for the Giants to finally hold a lead in this series and it wasn't pretty, but Buster Posey scored the go-ahead and winning run with two outs in the 10th when Reds third baseman Scott Rolen committed an error on Joaquin Arias' bouncing ground ball. San Francisco might not have been in the position to capitalize on that unearned run were it not for the efforts of starter Ryan Vogelsong and the bullpen. The right-hander settled down after a 30-pitch first inning to pitch five innings of one-run ball while Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo allowed a total of only one hit and one walk the rest of the way. Romo pitched two innings of relief to earn the win.

Head hangers: Rolen, a man with eight Gold Gloves to his name, will be replaying his bobble of Arias' grounder for awhile. The 10th-inning run, however, was a byproduct of a couple of other breakdowns, including reliever Jonathan Broxton giving up leadoff singles to Posey and Hunter Pence and catcher Ryan Hanigan allowing both runners to move into scoring position with a passed ball.

[Related: Johnny Cueto's injury throws his availability into question]

Key play: A Hall of Famer biffing a play that leads to the winning run? Nope, can't be anything else but the Rolen error.

Interesting stat: The Giants are the first team to win a postseason game with three or fewer hits since the 2004 Astros beat the Cardinals (who had one hit) in Game 5 of the NLCS.  San Francisco's first run of the night in the third inning was a product of a hit-by-pitch, a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.

What they'll be talking about: Will the Reds end up regretting letting this one get away? Their starter Homer Bailey was terrific, taking a no-hitter in the sixth inning and pitching seven innings of one-run ball before Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman pitched two perfect innings of relief. That should usually be a foolproof plan for a series clincher, but the Reds offense couldn't solve Vogelsong and crew, either. The good news for the Reds is that they still have two chances at home to seal the clincher.

There's also bound to be some talk about Dusty Baker's strategy in the 10th inning. After Hanigan's passed ball allowed the two runners to move into scoring position, Baker could have ordered an intentional walk of Arias and forced Sergio Romo to come to the plate with the bases loaded. That would have at least led to Romo's exit for Giants last bench player, but Baker didn't go that route. It's a serious lapse in judgment, but the bottom line is that if Rolen makes that play, no one's questioning Baker right now.

What's next: The Giants will try to tie the series up in Wednesday's Game 4. First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 p.m ET and Barry Zito will start for San Francisco. Baker says he hasn't decided on a starter yet though his options are Mat Latos or Mike Leake.

Make sure all your bases are covered this postseason ...
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