NLDS Game 4: San Francisco Giants 8, Cincinnati Reds 3

San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Tim Lincecum throws against the Cincinnati Reds during Game 4 of the National League division baseball series, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)

BOX SCORE

Game 1: Reds 5, Giants 2
Game 2: Reds 9, Giants 0
Game 3: Giants 2, Reds 1, 10 inn.
Game 4: Giants 8, Reds 3
Game 5: Giants (Cain) vs. Reds (Latos), 10:07 a.m. Thursday (TBS)

For the 13th consecutive time, the Giants won a game started by Barry Zito.

But like in a few other of the Zito’s previous 12 starts, the Giants won not because of him, but in spite of him.

Zito exited after 76 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, giving up two run on four hits, four walks. One of the runs the Reds scored off Zito came on three successive walks.

George Kontos came to clean up Zito’s mess in the third. When two Reds reached on infield singles in the fourth, Jose Mijares got Joey Votto, then Tim Lincecum entered.

This was the Tim Lincecum from Sunday’s game. The Tim Lincecum of the 2010 playoffs. The Tim Lincecum of the 2008 and 2009 Cy Young seasons.

Lincecum pitched 4.1 innings, giving up one run on two hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

He threw 55 pitches, 42 for strikes.

That goes with two scoreless innings he threw Sunday.

Combine the two relief efforts:

6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 0 BB, 8 K. 80 pitches, 59 for strikes.

If you compare that line with any of Lincecum’s starts this season, in some ways there’s no comparison.

Number of Lincecum starts this season with zero walks? None.

Number of Lincecum starts in which Lincecum allowed three or fewer hits: Three. But in all three, he walked four.

So what’s the difference between Lincecum start and Lincecum out of the pen? Timmy didn’t really say.

“Right now, I fee like times are different,” Lincecum told the San Jose Mercury-News. “We’re playing to get to the NLCS and further. So I feel that, with that motivation, I don’t think about the difference between starting and being in a bullpen situation. It’s just that I’ve got to get my outs and do my job.”

On the flip side of the game, the Giants’ offense finally woke up.

For a team that had four runs on 10 hits in the first three games, the Giants broke free for eight runs on 11 runs on Wednesday.

Home runs from Angel Pagan in the first and Gregor Blanco in the second gave the Giants’ an early 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.

In the seventh, Pablo Sandoval launched a long, two-run home run that measured an estimated 422 feet to seal the deal. I didn’t see where it landed, but it was headed to the Ohio River.

Since this is MoreSplashHits, we celebrate splash hits, even near splash hits on the road.

So here’s the video.

Now the Giants have become the first NL team to fall behind 2-0 in the Division Series to force a Game 5 by winning two road games.

They’ve already made history once, why not do it again, by becoming the first NLDS team to advance after falling behind 0-2.

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