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Cain's impressive postseason stretch halted

Cain's impressive postseason stretch halted

Cain's impressive postseason stretch halted play video for Cain's impressive postseason stretch halted
SAN FRANCISCO -- Faster than you could say Gilroy Garlic Fries, the Giants had whipped up the sold-out crowd at AT&T Park into a frenzy in the first inning on Saturday, the result of first baseman Brandon Belt's head-over-heels, over-the-rail grab of a foul ball and the exit of Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto to injury after eight pitches.

Ominous sign? They don't come any bigger than this, as the Reds appeared to be teetering before the first game of the National League Division Series -- on enemy turf, no less -- was even 15 minutes old.

"When Johnny went down, I was like, 'Oh, no, we're done,'" said Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips.

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Reds vs. Giants

This doom-and-gloom outlook wore off quick enough though, as the Reds actually managed to make spacious AT&T Park look small, as a two-run home run by Phillips and a solo shot by teammate Jay Bruce buried Giants pitcher Matt Cain, who before Saturday hadn't experienced this kind of playoff duress.

Cain, a 16-game winner during the regular season, with a perfect game to boot, fell to the Reds for the third time in this calendar year, allowing three runs on five hits over five innings as Cincinnati ran away with Game 1, a 5-2 victory.

"I made some bad pitches and put these guys in a hole," Cain said.

The home run by Phillips in the third inning snapped Cain's streak of 23 1/3 postseason innings without allowing an earned run, dating back to the Giants' magical run through the playoffs in 2010, when Cain was dominant in starts against the Braves, Phillies and finally the Rangers in the World Series.

All of that was gone quickly Saturday, though it wasn't just two swings that did in Cain, who needed 75 pitches to get through five innings. No, this wasn't the start the Giants wanted or expected from their ace in the first game of the postseason.

"He wasn't as sharp as he normally is," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He left a couple of pitches up that they took advantage of, and the ball left the park. He was missing spots a little bit."

In that third inning, Drew Stubbs singled leading off, which brought up the No. 9 spot in the order, the spot where Cueto -- who left the game with back spasms -- would have hit. Instead, Reds manager Dusty Baker sent up pitcher Homer Bailey, who was unable to get a bunt down and struck out.

Cain jumped ahead of Phillips by getting him to swing through a first-pitch curveball.

"I looked kind of foolish," said Phillips, who stated that he had a hunch that Cain might come back to that pitch later in the at-bat.

He was right.

Three pitches later, Cain went back to the curveball, this time leaving an 80-mph meatball over the plate that Phillips turned on, hitting it over the fence in left field for a 2-0 advantage.

"The hanging breaking ball to Phillips is something you don't want to happen," Cain said. "The hanging breaking ball in these situations seems to hurt a little more."

The home run to Bruce came to start the fourth inning, a 1-0 changeup that Bruce turned on, hitting it high over the wall in right-center field. Bruce is now 8-for-17 lifetime against Cain with three doubles, a home run and five RBIs.

Cain got through the fifth inning unscathed, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning with his spot due up to lead off.

"It would have been nice to score a few more runs for him so that he could stay in there longer," said Giants catcher Buster Posey.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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