The Giants won each of Zito's final 11 starts, as the soft-throwing hurler compiled a 7-0 record and 3.92 ERA over that span. That stretch spoke volumes to his manager, who also considered pitching right-hander Matt Cain on three days' rest.
"This is more a case with rewarding Zito with how he's been pitching and the job he's done," Bochy said. "I think he's earned this."
Zito has a healthy respect for the Reds. "They're tough one through nine," Zito said. "They even have some pitchers who can swing pretty well. You just can't let down even for one pitch, especially in this ballpark. You just have to live moment to moment, pitch to pitch, and not get ahead of yourself."
Cain threw only 75 pitches in his Game 1 start Saturday. He yielded three runs on five hits and suffered the loss. Bochy said the decision was essentially made before the series that Tim Lincecum, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner who scuffled throughout the regular season (10-15, 5.18 ERA), would pitch out of the bullpen.
In seven career postseason outings, Zito is 4-3 with a 3.25 ERA. He has not taken the hill in the playoffs since 2006, when he was with Oakland. The Giants left him off their postseason roster in 2010 after he went 9-14 during the regular season.
"You have to look at what Timmy has done, but you have to look at the present and that's what we have done," Bochy said. "We've looked at this year and recent history with how Barry has been throwing the ball."
At a glance, Zito's career statistics at Great American Ball Park are unimpressive -- 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in six starts. However, he yielded one run and five hits over six innings in his last outing there, an April 25 no decision in a game the Reds won, 4-2.
"I hadn't done well in the past here, but I had a good one here last time," Zito said. "It's encouraging to be able to come out and refer to my most recent game in the ballpark and know that I got it done out here before."