From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Bronson Arroyo had never won in San Francisco before pitching a playoff masterpiece.There were all kinds of memorable firsts this weekend for the gutsy Cincinnati Reds, who beat the San Francisco Giants 9-0 on Sunday night to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their NL division series -- and head home to Ohio on quite a roll.Ryan Ludwick hit his first postseason home run and Ryan Hanigan drove in his first playoff run. More than anything on this night, it was Arroyo's turn to celebrate on what he figured to be a fun flight back to Cincinnati."We couldn't put ourselves in a better situation," he said. "It doesn't mean you're going to close it out, but for us personally, I know the fans are going to be as jacked as they have ever been in that ballpark since it has been built, which is going to be nice."Arroyo, who was winless in his first six starts in San Francisco, retired his first 14 batters and delivered a gem a day after 19-game winner Johnny Cueto went down with a back injury.A pair of Ryans provided the big hits. Ludwick connected leading off the second inning for his first career playoff homer and Hanigan hit a two-run single in the fourth and a later RBI single. Jay Bruce added a two-run double and Joey Votto had three hits in his first multihit postseason game."Coming on the road, you think about getting one as a success and victory," Bruce said. "To be able come here and get two is very important."Former San Francisco skipper Dusty Baker came into his old stomping grounds by the bay and left with two commanding victories 10 years after managing the Giants within six outs of a World Series title before falling short.He walked through the hallway afterward greeting cheering fans with smiles, high-fives, hugs, waves and even a few hang-loose signs."We still love you, Dusty!" one woman yelled.Many fans didn't stick around until the end to see the Giants get handed their worst playoff shutout in franchise history.Game 3 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday at Great American Ball Park. Homer Bailey (13-10), who pitched a no-hitter Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh, takes the mound as the Reds try to close out the series against Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (14-9).The Reds won their first playoff game in 17 years by taking Game 1 without their ace Saturday night, and now they're going back home looking for their own sweep after the Phillies eliminated them in a frustrating three-game first round two years ago."You're not comfortable at all until it's over," Baker said. "We've been there before. It's hard to take the last breath out of anything."The Reds will try for their first postseason sweep since beating the Dodgers in the first round in 1995. Cincinnati got swept in the NL championship series that year by Atlanta to start what became a seven-game postseason losing streak before Saturday's win.The shaggy-haired Arroyo, the right-hander with that high leg kick slightly resembling the familiar motion of Giants Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, went untouched before Brandon Belt's two-out single to the gap in right-center with two out in the fifth. San Francisco didn't get another hit until Pablo Sandoval lined a double off the right-field arcade with two outs in the ninth."You hate to get beat like that, especially at home," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It happened. We know where we're at right now. We know our backs are to the wall. ... They've done a great job all year bouncing back."The 35-year-old Arroyo worked ahead and had four straight strikeouts during one stretch to baffle the Giants.Arroyo's seven innings marked his longest postseason outing in five starts and 13 appearances -- and he couldn't have picked a better moment to do it.Cueto threw all of eight pitches in Saturday's 5-2 win before leaving with back spasms, and Mat Latos and a patchwork pitching staff handled the rest.Baker said he picked Arroyo for Game 2 here in part because the righty is susceptible to giving up home runs after he allowed 26 this year. And AT&T Park is "one of the most forgiving ballparks in baseball."Arroyo thoroughly outpitched Madison Bumgarner to beat the Giants for the first time since 2008. He had gone 0-2 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts since, getting two no-decisions facing San Francisco this season.And he took the hard-luck loss in Game 2 against the Phillies in 2010 as the victim of a blown save.Boy did he give the bullpen a break with this one. Baker might have left him in longer had it not been a long inning before."A no-hitter in this type of environment is nearly impossible," Arroyo said. "A win for the ballclub is the pinnacle, nirvana."Cincinnati beat San Francisco's two best pitchers on their home field. Matt Cain lost Game 1.Bumgarner had pitched a one-hitter June 28 against the Reds at home, but was nothing close to that dominant this time.The last time Baker managed in a playoff setup like this season -- with the higher seed opening on the road for the first two games -- he was on the other end. In 1997, while managing the favored Giants, San Francisco lost the first two games in Florida and the Marlins completed a three-game sweep of the NL division series at Candlestick Park en route to the World Series title.Baker has felt good about these Reds all along, even more so after recently missing 11 games while recovering from a mini-stroke, including when they clinched the NL Central."He's kind of the heartbeat of this team," Bruce said. "To have him back for the last series and starting the playoffs, especially in San Francisco, where he obviously has a ton of history and is a storied manager here, it's good. It gives us a vibe that's pretty easy to play for."He is getting contributions from throughout his lineup and a ready-for-anything pitching staff.On Saturday, it was Brandon Phillips with three hits and a two-run homer and Bruce with a solo shot. The Reds added on late in Game 2 against the Giants' typically reliable bullpen with Bruce's eighth-inning double, a run-scoring triple from Drew Stubbs and an RBI single by Phillips.Ludwick, who came in just 1 for 16 against Bumgarner, silenced the orange towel-waving sellout crowd of 43,505 AT&T Park in a hurry when he sent the first pitch of the second inning over the center-field wall.The Reds sure made the Giants' pitcher friendly ballpark feel longball friendly the way they hit in these two games.Many of the fans quickly made for the exits after the Reds went ahead 6-0 on Bruce's two-run double in the eighth."We need to go to their place and play aggressive and try to change the momentum," Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro said. "Keep fighting, you never know what's going to happen. Their momentum is really good right now."Tim Lincecum entered in relief for the Giants in the top of the sixth trailing 4-0. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, whose rocky season kept him out of the playoff rotation, pumped his fist after striking out Hanigan to end the sixth before a scoreless seventh.NOTES:Arroyo had never gone six innings in the postseason before Sunday. ... San Francisco was shut out six times during the regular season, tied for second-fewest in the NL with Philadelphia. ... Cueto returned to Cincinnati along with Bailey. ... 2010 World Series MVP Edgar Renteria threw out the ceremonial first pitch and stopped by the clubhouse. "I'm very touched," he said. "The fans, they remember and appreciate everything. I'm never going to forget this time. They still remember what we did in 2010. It's unbelievable."
SAN FRANCISCO — After the final out Monday night, a round table was carried into the corner of the home clubhouse at AT&T Park and surrounded by chairs. Eleven players were sitting, eating, drinking and laughing as Chris Stratton prepared to address the media.
It was a rare sight for the Giants these days, a very rare sight. But then, so was Monday’s result. Stratton led the way in a 2-0 win over the Brewers that was the first home shutout of the season and motivated the joyous post-game scene.
The shutout was just the second of the season for the staff. Ty Blach went the distance in the other one and Stratton, a fellow rookie, did the heavy lifting Monday, throwing six strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. Matt Cain pitched the seventh, Mark Melancon pitched the eighth while going back-to-back for the first time in three months, and Sam Dyson closed it out quickly.
There’s a chance that Stratton joins that group in a few days. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night in Sacramento and that could put him on track to return to the rotation a turn later. That would line up with Stratton’s next start, but Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to kick the young righty out of the rotation, not after back-to-back scoreless starts against two of the better lineups in the league. A few days after striking out 10 Washington Nationals, Stratton cut through the Brewers. He has 12 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two appearances.
“For how we’re using him, he’s really handled it well,” Bochy said. “We skipped him, moved him back three or four days, but he doesn’t let it faze him. This is an important time for these young players coming up, whether it’s (Ryder) Jones or (Jarrett) Parker or Stratton. They’re trying to show they belong in the Major Leagues.
“You’re hoping these guys show they’re ready to play here and we don’t have to do something else because we can do it internally.”
Bochy said he could use a six-man rotation when Cueto returns, or a starter could be skipped. That will all sort itself, but the manager made one thing clear.
“We’d like to pitch him as much as we can,” Bochy said of Stratton.
That’s the same thing Bochy used to say of another right-hander, one he compared Stratton to before Monday’s game. Bochy was asked about Yusmeiro Petit, and he smiled and fondly stated, “He was so good. So good.” The Giants see some Petit in Stratton. He is unaffected by long layoffs and he’s capable of starting, relieving, or even pumping his fastball up a couple ticks for short outings.
Petit was a mainstay in San Francisco for years, a key cog in a championship team. Bochy has been looking for that piece since Petit departed in free agency, and Stratton seems like he might be suited for the role. He will want more, of course, because all pitchers do. The Giants will give him five more weeks here to try and earn that.
For the moment, Stratton’s focus is elsewhere. He turns 27 on Monday and the celebration started early. As Stratton answered questions, veterans at the table heckled him about striking out just one Brewer.
“I left all the strikeouts in Washington, I guess,” Stratton said.
Nick Hundley walked up with a TV remote and held it up between the cameras.
“What was your thought on the punchout?” he asked.
“I’m glad he swung,” Stratton said, smiling. “It was a ball.”
“Did you think about getting any more?” Hundley asked.
With that, he smiled and ducked back behind the cameras to return to the celebration in the corner. A few minutes later, Stratton joined him.
SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach has been a bright spot in this losing season, giving the Giants a young, cost-controlled lefty who can potentially fill a huge role next season. Chris Stratton is trying to do the same thing from the right side.
The 26-year-old continued his August surge, throwing six dominant innings against the Brewers in a 2-0 win that was the staff's first shutout at AT&T Park this season.
It was the kind of night that's been so familiar over the years. The Giants had six home shutouts last season. Here are five things to know from this year's first ...
—- The Brewers are first in the league in homers and the Nationals are third, so Stratton had his work cut out for him the last two times out. His results: 12 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s quite the statement. Stratton’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Chris Heston threw 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in July of 2015.
—- Matt Cain was used as a short reliever to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout.
—- Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back games for the first time since May 19-20. He struck out Neil Walker and Ryan Braun in a perfect inning.
—- Jarrett Parker reached base his first three times up. He’s hitting .385 at home this season but he’s just 4-for-35 (.114) on the road. Weird splits for a Giant slugger.
—- Brandon Crawford is finally finding some traction. His double in the fourth was the big hit in a two-run frame that gave Stratton a lead to work with. Crawford is 7-for-17 on the home stand with three extra-base hits and four RBI.