Giants slam Reds to complete historic comeback

Giants catcher Buster Posey (right) celebrates with teammates Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and...

Giants catcher Buster Posey (right) celebrates with teammates Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Angel Pagan after hitting a grand slam against the Reds during Game 5 of their NLDS series at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 11, 2012. (JEFF HAYNES/Reuters)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:21 PM ET

CINCINNATI - “There’s one thing we aren’t worried about if we advance,” said a scout -- whose team was still alive in the playoffs -- before Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds.

“The Reds first baseman. Right now he’s hitting like Wade Boggs: single up the middle, flare to left. He’s not the home run threat he used to be.”

That Reds first baseman, Joey Votto, had two hits Thursday -- a single up the middle in the seventh and a flare to left in the ninth -- as the Giants scored six times in the fifth inning for a 6-4 win in the deciding game of the best-of-five series before 44,142 fans at Great American Ballpark.

The win earns the Giants a berth in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series.

Toronto’s own Votto spent seven weeks on the disabled list with a torn medial meniscus in his left knee and then had to have a second surgery after injuring the knee while sliding.

Boggs is in the Hall of Fame as spray hitter, but the Reds signed Votto to a 10-year, $225-million contract extension in April to hit souvenirs. Since Votto returned Sept. 3 he has not been able to create the force that allowed him to hit 37 homers two years ago when he won the NL MVP award.

“When it came to power, I was probably 75% healthy; as far being fully recovered and feeling good each day, I was about 90%,” said Votto after the game, sitting in his chair with two Louisville Sluggers resting against his leg, not ready to take off his white Franklin batting gloves a final time this season.

The Reds returned from the coast with a 2-0 series lead and dropped three straight -- the first time a team had come home to drop three in a row in MLB playoff history.

“When I came back I had two choices: try to hit home runs, which I couldn’t generate enough power to do,” said Votto. “Or shrink things down and either hit a single or draw a walk.”

Votto has not been able to slide on his left leg since the injury and has had to learn to slide on his right. He hasn’t been able to crouch the way he used at first base in order to dig balls out of the dirt or field ground balls.

Votto led the Reds with a .389 average (7-for-18) against the Giants, but hit seven singles, was homerless and did not drive in a run.

“I was doing OK before I got hurt,” said Votto. “I’m proud to be a Cincinnati Red, to hear those fans cheering us in the ninth. We have to give them a better show next season.”

LATOS SHOOK UP

Our first encounter with Mat Latos, who started Game 5 for the Reds, came in 2010 when the Toronto Blue Jays visited the San Diego Padres after the all-star break. Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote on Latos, then a member of the Padres, something like: “Mat Latos was angry. His mother’s plane into San Diego was late. He would have to make his trip to the tattoo parlour on his own.” The family that gets tats together ... Reds general manager Walt Jocketty says the heat he took for trading for Latos in the off-season had “finally” died down Monday. The Reds sent three former No. 1 picks -- Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, Yasmani Grandal plus Edinson Volquez -- to San Diego for Latos, who was 14-4 with a 3.48 earned-run average this year ... The cold, hard print outs show Latos throws a fastball clocked at 93 miles per hour, sometimes 95. What charts don’t show is his composure ... After pitching four scoreless innings Thursday, Latos lost said composure in the fifth, thinking a 0-2 pitch to Gregor Blanco was a called strike three ... The Reds dugout thought so, too. Tom Hallion, the plate ump and the only person whose opinion matters, called it a ball. Blanco singled, and after Latos fell behind Brandon Crawford 2-0 -- two pitches the hurler thought were strikes -- Crawford had his first hit of the series, a triple ... Latos flapped his arms after the Blanco single and stomped on the mound, showing bad body language. It didn’t improve as Zach Cozart clanked a grounder, Latos issued a walk and a single to load the bases ... And Buster Posey unloaded them with a grand slam for a 6-0 Giants lead.

IN GAME

After closing the gap to 6-3, the Reds had the tying run on base in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, but managed to score only one run ... They left eight men on base in the final five innings, hitting 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position ... Matt Cain pitched 5 2/3 innings for the win while Sergio Romo worked 1 1/3 innings for the save ... Cintinnati’s Ryan Ludwick fouled a ball off, walked toward the third base dugout and was surprised when Brandon Belt caught the ball in foul territory ... Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence and Crawford each had two hits for the Giants.

SCOUT’S ALLEY

With all eight teams still alive at the time, more than 20 scouts were watching the Giants and Reds Thursday, prepping for possible match ups. “Can you imagine the poor Orioles,” said one scout. “You get a great pitching performance like that, the Yankees don’t have either Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez on the field in extra innings ... and the Yankees still win.” ... “Is Boston serious about hiring Tim Wallach as its manager or trying to put pressure on the Blue Jays to lower the price on John Farrell?” asked another.

THE MANAGER SAYS

“Anybody that’s ever had a knee problem, especially during the season, it’s tough to recover from,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker on Votto. “Joey works as hard as anybody. He’s healthy, but he’s not as strong as he was before and he probably won’t be as strong until into next season. Right now he’s doing what he can do, he’s healthy as he can be.”


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