NLDS Game 4: Giants tie series behind arrival of offense, Tim Lincecum’s relief effort

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Score and situation: The San Francisco Giants forced a decisive Game 5 with an 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark on Wednesday afternoon.

Leading lads: After managing a total of just four runs in their first three games, the Giants offense broke out in a big way during Game 4. Angel Pagan hit the first leadoff home run in the franchise's long postseason history while Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval each hit a two-run homer. Starter Barry Zito didn't have his best stuff and was yanked after allowing two runs and four walks over 2 2/3 innings of work. But manager Bruce Bochy went to the ace up his sleeve, bringing Tim Lincecum in from the bullpen with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Lincecum struck out Ryan Ludwick to end a Reds scoring threat and he'd go on to strike out six Reds batters while allowing just one run over 4 1/3 innings of work. Head hangers: Reds starter Mike Leake performed poorly after being called into the postseason roster to replace the injured Johnny Cueto. The righthander came into the game with a good track record against the Giants, giving up just three runs over his last three starts (23  1/3 total IP). He wilted on Wednesday, though giving up three runs in his first two innings and five over 4 1/3.

Key play:  Zito didn't last long, but his strikeout of Dioner Navarro with the bases loaded in the first inning was huge. Zito had walked two batters in the frame, but limiting the Reds to just one run in the first set the tone for the day.

Interesting stat: The Giants have won the last 12 starts by Barry Zito.

What they'll be talking about: It's amazing how quickly the momentum of a series can change. Twenty-four hours ago, the Giants offense was flailing and it looked like it'd be swept out of the postseason. One Scott Rolen error on Tuesday and a good team win on Wednesday later, the Giants are walking into Game 5 on Thursday with a swagger. They hold the upper hand with Matt Cain starting against Mat Latos, which is now part of the reason that Dusty Baker will be forced to answer questions on why he didn't try to end it early by starting Latos against Zito in Game 4.

What's next: A Game 5 at Great American Ballpark on Thursday for the right to advance to the NLCS. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. ET with Matt Cain and Mat Latos listed as the expected starters. The game will be televised on TBS.

Make sure your bases are covered this postseason ...
Follow @bigleaguestew@KevinKaduk and the BLS Facebook page!

What to Read Next