CINCINNATI – Not just any comeback would get San Francisco back to playing for a pennant. It would take one of Giant proportions.
And Buster Posey believed it could happen. Even after the Giants left the West Coast down two games, the National League batting champion insisted his team could pull it off, despite the long odds.
With one swing, he got everyone else believing it, too.
Posey hit the third grand slam in Giants postseason history on Thursday, and San Francisco pulled off an unprecedented revival, moving into the championship series with a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
You dont want to be in a lose-and-youre-out scenario, reliever Jeremy Affeldt said, wearing a brace on his left wrist so he didnt hurt it in the champagne-flavored clubhouse celebration. Weve been in that situation for three days. Were probably going to sleep well tonight.
Theyll play either Washington or St. Louis for the NL pennant starting Sunday, not caring at all who they face.
We could go up against anybody at any time, shortstop Brandon Crawford said. Being down 2-0 and coming back and winning three at their place, its an unbelievable feeling.
The Giants became the first NL team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the division series, which began in 1995. Major League Baseballs changed playoff format this season allowed them to become the first to take a best-of-five by winning the last three on the road.
Poseys second career grand slam off Mat Latos put the Giants up 6-0 in the fifth and sparked a scrum in the San Francisco dugout. The ball smacked off the front of the upper deck in left.
For the first time in the series, the Giants could exhale.
I dont think anybody gave up, Posey said.
Will Clark (1989 NLCS) and Chuck Hiller (1962 World Series) hit the other Giants postseason slams.
Matt Cain and the bullpen held on, with more help from Posey, who threw out Jay Bruce at third base to snuff out a sixth-inning rally that cut it to 6-3. The Giants had a pair of diving catches that preserved the lead in the eighth.
There was more drama in the ninth. Ryan Ludwick singled home a run off Sergio Romo. With two runners aboard, Romo fanned Scott Rolen to end it.
The Giants raised their arms, hugged and huddled by the side of the mound, bouncing in unison.
It was a spectacular moment, outfielder Hunter Pence said.
In Cincinnati, the home-field meltdown had a sickeningly familiar feeling. The Reds havent won a home playoff game in 17 years. After taking the first two on the West Coast, all they needed was one more at home, where they hadnt dropped three straight all season.
You get tired of the disappointments, but then you get over it, manager Dusty Baker said. It hurts big time.