CINCINNATI The Giants are hitting .121 in three games of this NL Division Series and they still havent received an out from a starting pitcher in the sixth inning.Yet somehowThey will attempt to hold onto their improbable playoff lives by putting their faith in a most improbable left-handed pitcher. Yes, Barry Zito is their champion today.Here are some key matchups as we approach Game 4 at Great American Ball Park:--Less than five hours before the first pitch Wednesday, the Reds officially received permission from Major League Baseball to replace injured Game 1 starter Johnny Cueto with right-hander Mike Leake.Leake will start Game 4 and Mat Latos would take the mound if the Giants can force a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday.--For a last-minute replacement, the Reds could do worse than Leake to oppose Zito.Leake, 24, was 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA but threw a complete game the last time he faced the Giants June 29 at AT&T Park. Leake allowed nine hits and just one run, when Pablo Sandoval took him deep in the ninth, to beat Matt Cain.Sandoval also doubled in that game and is 7 for 10 with two homers and two doubles in his career against the Arizona State product. Hunter Pence is 8 for 16 (.333) with two doubles and a homer. Ryan Theriot is the only other Giant with more than 10 at-bats against him.Leake is a control pitcher once compared to Greg Maddux, and not just by anyone. Doug Mapson, the current Giants special assistant and former Cubs scout who signed Maddux, said hes compared the future Hall of Famer to one amateur player in all the reports hes written over the years. Yep, it was Leake.Still, the right-hander has allowed 201 hits in 179 innings. So hes far from untouchable. Hes 4-5 with a 5.54 Era, .313 opponents average and whopping 17 home runs allowed in 16 starts at Cincinnati this season. Amazingly, Leake has allowed more homers than walks (15) at Great American Ball Park this season.Leake had a 4.01 ERA prior to the All-Star break and a 5.27 ERA after it. That's why he had been left off the Reds' NLDS roster.--MLB medical officials approved the Reds roster move after reviewing statements from Reds trainers, who maintained that Cuetos strained oblique would limit him to one start, maximum, in the NLCS should Cincinnati advance. Cueto, who exited after eight pitches in Game 1, would be ineligible to return to the Reds active roster until the World Series.--Barry Zito has pitched against the Reds 12 times in his career (11 starts) and his 6.25 ERA is his highest against any NL opponent.But its been a different outcome this season in two starts against them. He had nearly identical outings April 25 on the road and June 30 at home, both times holding Cincinnati to a run in six innings.The Reds were patient while drawing six walks against Zito in his last start against them, but the left-hander wasnt missing by much.--Zito is expected to throw to Buster Posey as Giants manager Bruce Bochy seeks to keep his regulars together and his best defensive alignment on the field.Zito threw to Posey in just seven of his 32 starts and was 2-1 with a 4.86 ERA as the Giants posted a 5-2 record. The left-hander spent most of the season throwing to backup Hector Sanchez, a pairing partly designed in the spring because coaches knew Posey would require regular rest as he recovered from last years horrific leg injury. Zito was 13-7 with a 3.97 ERA in starts with Sanchez as the Giants posted a 16-9 record.--Is there any Giants starter that Brandon Phillips doesnt have numbers against? The Reds second baseman is 8 for 19 (.421) with three doubles, five walks and zero strikeouts in his career against Zito.Center fielder Drew Stubbs is 5 for 13 (.385) and even lefty-hitting right fielder Jay Bruce is 5 for 14 (.357) with a home run. But Joey Votto is just 3 for 18 (.167) with no extra-base hits and just two walks in his career against the finesse lefty. If it were a regular-season game, Votto might be getting a day off.Although Ryan Ludwick has mashed lefties this season, hes just a .231 hitter (6 for 26) with a home run against Zito.Scott Rolen was the only Reds player to homer off Zito in two starts against Cincinnati this season.--If youve forgotten, the Giants are 11-0 in the last 11 games with Zito on the mound. Thats the longest stretch for a Giants starter since Bill Swift in 1992.
Last week, Giants reliever Mark Melancon underwent surgery on his right elbow.
On Monday morning, he posted to Instagram:
Melancon signed a 4-year, $62 million contract with the Giants last winter.
It was a rough first season in San Francisco for the three-time All-Star.
He spent time on the DL and appeared in just 32 games -- 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA.
On Sept. 8, he posted to Twitter:
Melancon was diagnosed with pronator syndrome -- similar to carpal tunnel syndrome.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval homered and drove in three runs, rookie Chris Stratton pitched six strong innings and the San Francisco Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-2 on Sunday.
The Diamondbacks had won 20 of 25 games and nine straight on the road. Their magic number for clinching a playoff berth was six going into Sunday.
The Giants snapped a four-game skid. Stratton (3-3) struck out four and gave up two runs, five hits and a walk.
Stratton also had the first of three singles leading off San Francisco's three-run fifth. He scored when Austin Slater drew a four-pitch walk off starter Taijuan Walker (9-8).
The Giants loaded the bases with no outs three times - off Walker in the fourth and fifth innings and against T.J. McFarland in the seventh.
Sandoval homered leading off the sixth - his third in 37 games since returning to the Giants in July. He's batting .185 since being acquired.
Sandoval drove in a run in the seventh with a fielder's choice on a fly ball that dropped near left fielder David Peralta, who fired to second get a force out on Brandon Crawford. Sandoval also knocked in the game's first run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer off Stratton in the sixth, his 24th home run in 51 games since the Diamondbacks acquired him in a July trade with the Detroit Tigers.
Walker gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings.
STARTERS' STREAK SNAPPED
Walker's outing snapped a streak of eight straight games in which Diamondbacks starters gave up two or fewer runs. Starters were a combined 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA over that stretch.
Fan favorite Ryan Vogelsong retired as a Giant in a ceremony before the game. Vogelsong was part of the Giants' championship teams in 2012 and 2014.
Giants: C Buster Posey was out of the lineup after fouling a ball off his left big toe Saturday. Manager Bruce Bochy said the injury isn't serious and expects to have him back in the lineup after Monday's day off. ... LHP Will Smith, who had Tommy John surgery in March, started his throwing program on Sunday.
Diamondbacks: LHP Patrick Corbin (14-12, 4.06 ERA) will pitch Monday's series opener in San Diego. Corbin is 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA in his last seven starts. He's 5-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 15 career outings (including 10 starts) against the Padres.
Giants: After the team's day off, Johnny Cueto (7-8, 4.58 ERA) will pitch Tuesday's series opener against Colorado. Cueto is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts since coming off the DL with a flexor tendon strain on Sept. 1. He is 9-3 with a 2.66 ERA in in 15 career starts against the Rockies.