But in a best-of-five series, one team has to win three times. As it stands, the Reds entered play on Tuesday with two wins and left with the same amount after the Giants pulled out a gutty, 2-1 victory in 10 innings.
The odds may be stacked against them -- after all, no National League team has come from a 2-0 deficit in the Division Series and won it -- but the Giants are counting themselves out of nothing.
"We came here to win three games in a row," Angel Pagan said. "We didn't come to here to try to win one game, or not get swept, or whatever. We came here to win the series."
It's been a bizarre trek for San Francisco so far. Three of the four runs the Giants scored in the NLDS came via a passed ball, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly. So it's only fitting that in a win-or-go-home situation in Game 3 on Tuesday, they took their first lead of the NLDS not on a heroic home run, but on a fluky play.
With the score tied at 1 in the 10th, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence each singled and advanced on Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan's passed ball. Joaquin Arias laced a sharp ground ball to Scott Rolen, who bobbled and threw late to first base. Posey scored, and the Giants, after three quick outs by the Reds in the bottom of the frame, won the game.
"For us, we were backed into a corner, down 2-0, so we don't have anything but to scratch and claw," Jeremy Affeldt said. "I think our offense is capable of doing more, but if that's how we have to win these games, that's how we're going to do it."
With Game 4 looming, the Giants have as much confidence now as they did before the series began. With words like "focused" and "emotion" floated through the clubhouse after the game, and it's clear this Giants team has no doubt it is capable of what it needs to do to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
"There is no time for panic," Pagan said. "You panic, I don't think you win this game. You have to go out there and believe you're going to get it done. That's how you play. You play with determination and that's what we showed tonight."
The Giants haven't lost three games in a row since losing five straight nearly 2 1/2 months ago. The last time they were swept in a postseason series was in 1997, when the Marlins took all three games in the NLDS.
They knew there was a chance they'd be going home after Tuesday's game, but the focus clearly was on stretching the visit to Cincinnati out by a few days.
"In the dugout, everyone was up and fired up and saying, 'We can get it done. We've got to this is now,'" Sergio Romo said. "And there is no lack of belief on this team. We believe in ourselves, and we go out there and play hard. The emotion is definitely there. We're a high-strung team and we have a lot of energy and being able to take that into the top of the tenth and get ahead, I mean, it's huge for us."
The atmosphere in the clubhouse after the game was business-like for the most part. Loud music blared briefly but was turned to lower tones when players began chatting with reporters. Players talked quietly to each other at their lockers and went about their postgame routine much like they do during the regular season.
But they know they have a few things working for them. For one, they know who their starting pitcher will be for Game 4. The Reds, facing the possibility they'll be without ace Johnny Cueto for the foreseeable future, still aren't sure what they're going to do.
Giants players aren't concerned with those details as much as they're simply glad to live another day. After all, there may be another one after that. And another.
"We're not going home, so we definitely feel good," Affeldt said. "We could be going home. For us, it doesn't matter who they throw against us, we have to put runs up and we have to keep runs from scoring. I don't know who they're going to throw, I don't know any of that stuff. I know we have to win every game and that's what we're going to try to do."