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SF@CIN: Pagan's clutch homer gives Giants the lead

CINCINNATI -- The Giants haven't had much luck hitting with runners in scoring position lately. Angel Pagan made his own luck Thursday afternoon.

Pagan hit a three-run home run off Cincinnati closer Sean Marshall with one out in the top of the ninth inning to rally the Giants to a 6-5 victory in the finale of a three-game series against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Before Pagan's long fly into the seats, the Giants were on the verge of being swept in Cincinnati for the second straight year.

Now the Giants return home to AT&T Park for a nine-game homestand in a much better mood than it appeared they were heading. They had lost seven straight games at Great American Ball Park and No. 8 was looming with Marshall on the mound.

"That's one of those games that saves your sanity," said manager Bruce Bochy. "We've had a tough time here but we finally broke the streak, the curse, whatever, and finally won a ballgame here. We were getting runners out there and were looking for a big hit. Angel, it's harder to get a bigger hit than that. Two outs from getting swept and he delivers."

The Giants closed out their seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record. They are 10-9 overall and three games behind idle Los Angeles in the National League West.

Joaquin Arias walked and Ryan Theriot singled off Marshall to lead off the ninth inning. Both were replacement starters -- Arias at shortstop for Brandon Crawford and Theriot at second base for Emmanuel Burriss -- but each went 2-for-3 in the game and they combined to score three of San Francisco's runs.

Marshall struck out Pagan during a perfect ninth inning Wednesday night. Pagan remembered that at-bat Thursday.

"He struck me out with a curveball and I knew he was going to try to get me again, but I wasn't trying to look for it. I was just trying to react if he threw it for a strike," said Pagan, who also homered Wednesday. "I knew I made some solid contact, but I'm not looking for homers. I'm just trying to put it in play somewhere in the gap and try to score some runs. Good thing that it went out."

Marshall and much of the crowd thought he had Pagan struck out one pitch prior, but Marshall's fastball was called low by home-plate umpire Tim Welke.

"The ball was borderline. It was close. But the next pitch was the one that mattered," said Marshall. "I definitely missed my spot on that one. The ball kind of hung on the middle of the plate. It was kind of a defensive swing, but he put the barrel on it. He got it up in the air and unfortunately, that's how the game swung."

San Francisco had left six runners on base and had just two hits in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position before Pagan's home run. The Giants were hitting just .155 (14-of-90) with runners in scoring position in the last 10 games and were 0-for-2 Thursday before Brandon Belt delivered a single in the fourth inning to score Pablo Sandoval from second base and cut an early Cincinnati lead to 2-1.

Javier Lopez (2-0) got the win in relief by pitching a scoreless eighth inning while Santiago Casilla earned his second save of the season with a perfect ninth inning. Casilla struck out Zack Cozart, Drew Stubbs and Joey Votto to end the game.

Starter Ryan Vogelsong gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings of work but was looking at a loss, while Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey was in line to even his record at 2-2. Bailey gave up three runs, two of them earned, in 6 1/3 innings.

"Hopefully Pagan's homer there in the ninth jump-starts us a little bit," said Vogelsong. "Something like that can carry us and jump-start us a little bit. It's important to have comebacks like that because it proves to the team that we can do it. Until you do it, you're not quite sure, and now every time we get to the ninth inning there will be that little thing in the backs of our heads letting us know we did it before and we can do it again. That was a big lift for the whole team."

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