CINCINNATI -- Facing elimination again, the San Francisco Giants came out swinging. Got a saving relief appearance from Tim Lincecum, too.
Angel Pagan led off the game with a home run, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later and the Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Wednesday, evening their NL division series at 2-all.
Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young winner relegated to the bullpen, also delivered. He entered in the fourth with the Giants ahead 3-2, struck out six while giving up just one run in 4 1/3 innings, and allowed his team to pull away.
The Giants can complete an unprecedented comeback on Thursday. No team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three on the road, according to STATS LLC.
Matt Cain, who lost the series opener and has yet to beat the Reds in three tries this season, will start Game 5 against Mat Latos.
The Giants’ hitters emerged from a series-long slump and extended Cincinnati’s playoff misery. The Reds haven’t won a postseason game at home in 17 years.
One thing in the Reds’ favor -- they haven’t dropped three straight at home all season.
The Reds were hoping to start ace Johnny Cueto, but had to drop him off the roster a few hours before Wednesday’s first pitch because he was still bothered by a strained muscle in his right side. He won’t be available if Cincinnati wins Game 5 and reaches the NL championship series.
The way the Giants have started hitting, that’s now in doubt.
San Francisco managed only four runs in the first three games of the series. The Giants avoided the sweep by pulling out a 2-1 win in 10 innings on Tuesday night with the help of a passed ball and an error by third baseman Scott Rolen.
Cardinals 8, Nationals 0
WASHINGTON -- Chris Carpenter was every bit the postseason ace he’s been in the past for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Taking the mound for only the fourth time in 2012, missing a rib after surgery to cure numbness on his right side, the 37-year-old Carpenter pitched scoreless ball into the sixth inning, rookie Pete Kozma delivered a three-run homer, and the defending champion Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 8-0 Wednesday to take a 2-1 lead in their NL division series.
All in all, quite a damper on the day for a Nationals Park-record 45,017 red-wearing, towel-twirling fans witnessing the first major league postseason game in the nation’s capital in 79 years.
Three relievers finished the shutout for the Cardinals, who can end the best-of-five series in Thursday’s Game 4 at Washington.