SAN FRANCISCO — The Cincinnati Reds rode a patchwork pitching staff to their first postseason win in 17 years — after losing their ace, no less.
Sam LeCure, Mat Latos, and three other pitchers shut down San Francisco after Johnny Cueto went out in the first inning with a back injury, and the Cincinnati Reds were powered by home runs from Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce to beat the Giants, 5-2, in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Saturday night.
Phillips hit a two-run homer in the third, and Bruce added a solo drive leading off the fourth as the Reds overcame the departure of their 19-game winner after just eight pitches.
Aroldis Chapman gave up a run in the ninth on a wild pitch, but struck out Buster Posey with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball to end it with runners on second and third.
San Francisco’s Matt Cain allowed his first career postseason earned runs after going untouched during the Giants’ improbable World Series season of 2010.
That same year, Cincinnati was swept out of the first round by the Phillies, getting no-hit by Roy Halladay. This time, the Reds clobbered Cain and played on with poise when Cueto got hurt. Phillips, who made the final out of Halladay’s no-no, added an RBI single in the ninth for his third hit and the Reds scored another on a passed ball.
‘‘I was just trying to make things happen for the team,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘We really believe in our team. Johnny is the type of person that we really need.’’
Reds skipper Dusty Baker earned an emotional win in his return to AT&T Park for the playoffs 10 years after managing the Giants within six outs of a World Series title. He’s also back on the top step of the dugout after rejoining the team following an 11-game absence while recovering from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat.
Game 2 is Sunday night, with righthander Bronson Arroyo (12-10) taking the ball for the Reds against San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner (16-11).
LeCure earned the win with 1⅔ 3 innings before Baker turned to Latos, who was seemingly unfazed at being forced into early duty.