CINCINNATI There's a gaudy sleeveless T-shirt in the Giants' clubhouse emblazoned with the words "I'm sexy and I know it." It's reserved for the player who clinches a win, but it hasn't gotten much use lately.
Angel Pagan changed that with one swing in the ninth inning of a 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He also changed the entire mood of a team that was staring straight down the abyss at a sweep and eighth straight defeat at Great American Ball Park.
Pagan's three-run homer off Reds closer Sean Marshall turned a struggling squad into a boisterous one Thursday afternoon. And it had Matt Cain, the originator of the shirt, unpacking a welcome addition to the clubhouse.
"That's one of those games that saves your sanity," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We were looking for a big hit, and it's hard to get a bigger hit than that. Two outs from getting swept, and he delivered."
Pagan's delivery came from some advance scouting. A former teammate of Marshall with the Chicago Cubs, Pagan knew the left-hander liked to throw his curveball in crucial situations. Marshall threw one to Pagan on Wednesday night, too.
"I knew it was coming again," Pagan said.
Pagan launched a high blast into the left-field stands, scoring Joaquin Arias and Ryan Theriot. Up until that point, the Giants had left 20 runners on base in the series.
"It was huge huge," said starter Ryan Vogelsong, who gave up four earned runs in six innings. "That's a big win. It's important to have a comeback like this because it proves to the team we can do it. Now it's going to be, 'We did it before, we can do it again.' "
The homer was an example in a different way, as well. With three homers and four walks, Pagan isn't your prototypical leadoff hitter, and that's just fine with Bochy.
On a club with few leadoff options, Pagan has made the spot his during an 11-game hitting streak.
"You can see the talent," Bochy said. "You can't change the player you want him to be himself. He does swing the bat. He doesn't walk a lot, but he finds a way to get on base. If he hits the occasional home run for you, that works, too."
Pagan's third homer of the trip got Santiago Casilla up in a hurry in the Giants' bullpen. Casilla, the closer by default since Brian Wilson's elbow surgery, was more than ready.
He struck out the side in the ninth on just 14 pitches.
"Boy, you can't throw the ball better than the way he did," Bochy said. "Our bullpen struggled here, but he went out there and made it look easy."
The Giants mostly have played poor defense this season and have been abysmal with runners in scoring position. Their All-Star closer is lost for the season, Opening Day left fielder Aubrey Huff was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of anxiety, and ace Tim Lincecum has an 8.20 ERA.
Yet they flew home with a 10-9 record despite playing just six of their first 19 games at AT&T Park.
"We need to try and get on a roll here," Vogelsong said.
Pablo Sandoval singled in the fourth inning, setting a franchise record for the longest hitting streak (19 games) to open a season. Sandoval broke Johnny Rucker's record, set in 1945.
Bochy addressed the team about Huff's situation prior to the game but said there is no update. He still expects Huff to rejoin the Giants today and remain with them throughout his stint on the disabled list.