CINCINNATI - They came home with a 2-0 lead.
Three chances to win once.
The Cincinnati Reds, as Red Barber might have said, were in the cat bird seat.
Reds fans brought brooms to the Great American Ballpark on Tuesday.
Yet the San Francisco Giants got off the mat to score in the 10th for a 2-1 win over the Reds before 44,501 fans, avoiding a sweep. They now trail the Reds 2-1 in the best-of-five National League Division Series.
Since manager Dusty Baker juggled to a Game 1 win using three starters when Johnny Cueto suffered a mild oblique strain, causing him to leave after eight pitches, the Reds are suddenly short on rested starters.
Now, Baker will turn to either Mike Leake or Matt Latos in Wednesday afternoon’s Game 3. The Reds say they’ll decide Wednesday morn -- highly unusual.
General manager Walt Jocketty, plus assistants Bill Bavasi, Gerry Walker and Bob Miller were huddling with Baker Tuesday night to decide.
Leake, 8-9 this season, was not on the post-season roster. To make room for him Cueto would have to be disabled, meaning he could not pitch in the National League Championship Series.
Latos, coming off a four-inning, 57-pitch relief appearance in Game 1, would be on three days rest.
If Latos starts and there is a Game 5 it could be Bronson Arroyo, again, on three days rest.
The winner: A passed ball by Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan -- he had three all season -- and an error by Scott Rolen -- 10 errors this season -- followed singles by Buster Posey and Hunter Pence provided the winning run.
“It’s my ball,” said Rolen, “not the shortstop’s, I can’t lay back on that ball with a man on third. I’d change the result, but I wouldn’t change my approach. I shoulder the blame.”
Hanigan’s passed ball advanced the runners against reliever Jonathan Broxton.
“Broxton made a heck of a pitch, that’s a play I make -- or didn’t make,” said Rolen.
He said it: “I don’t know who is pitching,” said outfielder Jay Bruce, “But I hope they’d pick me ahead of Joey (Votto).”
Homer throws Ks: Don't blame Karen and David Bailey. When they welcomed their bouncing baby boy into the world 26 years ago in La Grange, Tex., he was christened David DeWitt Bailey. He picked up the nickname Homer at an early age and insisted on being addressed as such. The Baileys' son grew wanting to be called Homer in honour of his great grandfather, a chicken farmer in Texas ... A pitcher named Homer? Why not Back Up Third? Or Ball Four? Or Gopher Ball? Or a boy named Sue. Reds right-hander Homer Bailey was as dominant as someone named Sandy, or Nolan or Tom Terrific, pitching seven innings while allowing one hit and striking out six consecutive Giants ... Bailey allowed a one-out single to Marco Scutaro with one out in the sixth on an 0-2 pitch. Outside of that, the Giants' Angel Pagan hit a hard one-hopper at second baseman Brandon Phillips and, oh yeah, the Giants hit three loud foul balls. It was the longest string of strikeouts since Aaron Harang strike out six in San Diego in 2008.
The Black Sox: By fanning Posey, Pence, Brandon Belt, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford and Aubrey Huff in order, Bailey became the first Reds pitcher to strike out six hitters in order since Hod Eller in Game 5 of the 1919 Series. Eller pitched a 5-0 win, fanning Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Ray Schalk, Lefty Williams, Nemo Leibold and Eddie Collins in order of the Chicago White Sox, later known as the Black Sox. Eight players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, Williams, Gandil and Risberg were suspended for life for fixing the Series
In Game: The Giants tied the score in the third as Blanco was hit with a pitch and Crawford walked on five pitches. Not the recipe for success facing the No. 7-8 hitters. After a successful bunt, Pagan hit a scoring fly ball. Bailey had a shot to throw out Blanco at third on the bunt, but chose to throw to first ... The Reds scored once in the first and it could have been more. Phillips led off with a single and was stealing when a pitch went to the screen. Phillips didn't break stride and headed for third, only to be thrown out by Posey. Zach Cozart walked, Ryan Ludwick lined a single to left and Jay Bruce singled to right scoring Cozart.
Bruce on Votto: Jay Bruce was asked pre-game what he saw from Etobicoke first baseman Joey Votto, who since returning from injury is not driving the ball the way he usually does?
"I see that," Bruce said. "I don't think Joey feels 100%, but he's a 'hit-getter.' If you were to ask me who do you think the next person would be to hit .400 in a season, I would say him. I'm not going to say he's going to go out there and do that, but Joey has the ability and the talent level that not a lot of people have because he sets such a precedent with his offensive game. One year he hit 30 home runs, 25, 26, 29. I would consider that setting a precedent for a guy that hits like he does, hits 40-some doubles.
"He's got on base a .470 something (.474 to lead the NL) percentage, that's an alarming rate. He missed eight weeks and he walked almost 100 times. That's not something that a lot of people do, they play the full season and that's what they're best at. Joey's best asset is the ability to not make outs and doing that tends to help you score runs, and even when he's not driving the ball he's the best at getting on base."
One from the dugout: "Toronto huh?" asked a Cincinnati policeman, noticing a writer's press pass.
"Is Toronto as big as Cincinnati?" he asked. Cranking up the google showed Toronto's population in 2011 at 6,054,191 while Cincinnati's is at 2,138,038. But their ball team is better.
TSB-SSSSS: After TBS showed a picture of David Wells injuring his back pitching for the New York Yankees, Dennis Eckersley said "Joe Torre told you to go in the clubhouse and do a sit up." Replied Wells "He never came in the cluhbouse ... had to do my own sit ups."
Getting drafty: The Jays will select 10th over-all next June, which means they can sign an elite free agent and their draft pick is protected ... Perfect Game's projected 10th over-all pick with the draft less than eight months away? Catcher-third baseman Reese McGuire of Kent, Wash., who has committed to San Diego University ... Allan Simpson's top Canadian picks for the 2014 draft: North York outfielder Gareth Morgan; first baseman John Lantigua-Tavarez of Quebec City and shortstop Jesus Lopez of Okotoks, Alta.
Stee-rike: Lefty Tom Browning, who threw a perfect game for the Reds on Sept. 16, 1988, threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3 ... Cincinnati's Nick Lachey sang the national anthem ... The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales were also part of the pre-game but seemed out of place on the Ohio rather than at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.