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NLDS Game 1: Mat Latos rescues Reds in 5-2 win over Giants

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Score and situation: The Cincinnati Reds jumped out to a 1-0 series lead with a resilient 5-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.

Leading lads: With Johnny Cueto lost early to back spasms, scheduled Game 3 starter Mat Latos volunteered to take the ball and turned in a fantastic four-inning relief outing, holding the Giants to a Buster Posey solo homer. Sam LeCure wasn't too bad either, tossing an inning and two-thirds scoreless to bridge the gap to Latos. Offensively, Brandon Phillips launched a two-run homer to open the scoring in the third and added an RBI single in the ninth.

Head hangers: Matt Cain was on the receiving end of those two home runs and saw his postseason streak of innings without an earned run allowed end at 23 and two-thirds. The top three hitters in San Francisco's order — Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval — went a combined 2 for 14. 

Key play: The Reds made a lot of heads up plays defensively that won't show up in the highlight reels. That includes Drew Stubbs cutting off Gregor Blanco's double in the second inning that would have easily scored Brandon Belt otherwise. That helped LecCre escape the inning unscathed, because after intentionally walking Brandon Crawford to load the bases, he got Matt Cain to fly out harmlessly to keep the game scoreless.

What they'll be talking about: The Reds say Johnny Cueto's back spasms are a day-to-day issue and should leave him available to start Game 3. His condition between now and then will be a hot topic. With the new playoff format in place, the Reds would host the final three games of the LDS. How will Bruce Bochy and his squad approach what is essentially a must win Game 2?

What's next: Bochy won't have long to think about as the teams are back in action for Game 2 on Sunday night at 8:30 ET. Veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo will take the ball for Dusty Baker's Reds looking to go up 2-0. He'll be opposed by the Giants' 16-game winner Madison Bumgarner.

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