CINCINNATI Left-hander Barry Zito will start Game 4 for the Giants if they can extend their National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum? He's staying in the bullpen.
The Giants flew in from the West Coast on Monday trailing 2-0 in the best-of-five series. The Reds can finish it today when Homer Bailey (13-10) faces the Giants' Ryan Vogelsong (14-9).
Manager Bruce Bochy wanted to see how the first two games of the series played out before deciding his Game 4 starter. The Reds won 5-2 and 9-0, with Lincecum pitching two innings in relief Sunday night.
Bochy chose Zito (15-8) because of his strong finish to the season. The left-hander won his last five starts and seven consecutive decisions. The Giants won the last 11 games he started.
"He's been really on top of his game, and I think he's earned this," Bochy said. "We all do. I'm glad to be able to tell Barry that he's getting the start. When you win your last 11 games that a pitcher starts, it's a pretty good thing."
It was a touchy decision for the Giants. Lincecum pitched their Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas in 2010 but has struggled this season. He lost a career-high 15 games, had a 5.18 ERA and tied his career high with 17 wild pitches.
Bochy considered starting Matt Cain, who lost the series opener Saturday night, if the Giants get to Game 4.
"Sure, we put thought in it, but this is more a case with rewarding Zito with how he's been pitching and the job he's done," Bochy said. "Instead of pushing a starter back on short rest, there is a history of that not working too well. And this would have been the first time that we have asked Matt to do it this year."
The Reds were unsure whether right-hander Johnny Cueto would be available for a Game 4. He started the series opener but left in the first inning because of back spasms.
Reds Bailey played catch in the sun-splashed outfield at Great American Ball Park, his usual routine the day before a start. Nothing different at all, as far as he let on.
"It's just another game," he said.
Not really. Bailey has a chance to exorcise a lot of bad postseason history or add to it.
Less than two weeks after he threw the 15th no-hitter in the history of baseball's first professional franchise, Bailey, 26, can add another career moment.
Cincinnati hasn't won a home playoff game in 17 years, a span of futility etched into the franchise's storied history.
The Big Red Machine won the World Series in 1975 and 1976. The 1990 Nasty Boys team swept Oakland to win another.
Since then? Little more than heartbreak. The Reds were swept by Atlanta in the 1995 N.L. Championship Series. Cincinnati lost to the Mets in a one-game playoff for the N.L. wild card in 1999 and was swept by the Phillies in the first round two years ago.