Arroyo, Reds push Giants to brink of elimination

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce (32) celebrates with teammates Brandon Phillips and Chris...

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce (32) celebrates with teammates Brandon Phillips and Chris Heisey after defeating the San Francisco Giants follwing Game 2 of their MLB NLDS playoff baseball series in San Francisco, California October 7, 2012. (REUTERS)

MELISSA COUTO, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:00 PM ET

The Bee Gees' Staying Alive played over the loudspeakers at AT&T Park Sunday night, but the San Francisco Giants weren't listening.

They were too busy getting buried.

After losing Game 2 of the National League Division Series 9-0 to the Cincinnati Reds, the Giants, though still breathing, now find themselves on life support.

Heading to Ohio for Game 3 down 0-2 in the series is not what the 2010 World Series champions expected coming into the postseason, but after having their bats silenced by Reds starter Bronson Arroyo's masterful pitching performance, that's what they get.

Maybe it was hopeless for San Francisco Sunday night. After all, Arroyo was locked in from the start. The 35-year-old, who until Sunday was winless in each of his previous 11 post-season appearances, retired 14 Giants in a row before giving up a single to Brandon Belt in the fifth, the only hit allowed through seven innings.

Commanding the strike zone for most of the game, the Florida native struck out four batters while walking just one to secure his first win in San Francisco.

Giants starter Madison Bumgarner also racked up four strikeouts, but the similarities end there.

Through four and 1/3 innings, Bumgarner gave up seven hits and four runs, including a first-pitch solo shot to Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick to kick off the second inning that set the tone for the game.

It was all Cincinnati from then on as the Reds received offensive contributions from nearly everyone in their lineup. Much of the attack came from only two innings -- an explosive fourth which saw three Cincinnati players score on RBI-singles from Scott Rolen and Ryan Hanigan, and a nine-batter eighth which added five more runs for the visiting team.

Joey Votto hit three singles for a 3-for-4 night, Jay Bruce picked up two RBIs, and Brandon Phillips went 2-for-5 with an RBI of his own.

Not the Same Old Reds

Remember when Cincinnati was swept by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the MLB playoffs in 2010?

Now they're poised to sweep the Giants, who won the coveted World Series trophy two years ago.

We're told this is not the same old team that lost three straight games to the Phillies the last time they were in the post-season, and although most of the main pieces are still there from 2010, there's one significant difference -- pitching.

The 2012 Reds have the best team ERA in the National League (3.34), the most saves (56), and the second-most wins (97). In 2010, Cincinnati was seventh in team ERA (4.01), fourth in saves (43) and third in wins (91).

Interestingly, as far as offence goes, this team is actually slightly worse than it was in 2010.

Two years ago, Cincinnati hit .272 as a team for the best batting average in the National League, while sporting a second-best OBP of .338.

With 188 home runs, Cincinnati led the league in that category too. This year, the Reds' .251 team batting average over the regular season was ninth in the NL, and their .315 OBP 12th. Cincinnati's 172 home runs still puts them up there, but in third place rather than first.

But they say it's pitching that wins championships, right?

The Bullpen Diaries

Tim Lincecum took the mound at AT&T Park Sunday night, but not in his typical role. Coming into the game following Bumgarner's lacklustre performance, the one-time Giants ace pitched two innings of relief, giving up one hit.

By using Lincecum out of the bullpen, Bruce Bochy has cleared up any confusion regarding the righty's role for this series. He's already announced that 34-year-old Ryan Vogelsong will start Game 3 in Cincinnati, and we can probably expect the resurgent Barry Zito to take the mound for Game 4, if the Giants last that long.

Vogelsong was 14-9 this season with a 3.37 ERA while Zito, with a 15-win season for the first time since 2006, sports a 4.15 ERA heading into the postseason.

Down but not Out

Things aren't looking too good for the Giants, but they are by no means out of this thing. In the last 17 years, four teams have come back to win a division series after being down by two games: the 1995 Seattle Mariners (over the New York Yankees), the 1999 Boston Red Sox (over the Cleveland Indians), the 2001 Yankees (over the Oakland Athletics), and the 2003 Red Sox (over the A's).

Neither of those teams went on to win the World Series in their respective years, and only one, the 2001 Yankees, made it past the AL Championship Series.

In the NLCS, teams up two games to none are 21-0, but there's still hope, if faint.


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