SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds found just about every way to beat the San Francisco Giants this season after falling in frustrating fashion to the World Series champions last October.
Mike Leake led the latest — and perhaps wackiest — performance Wednesday night, pitching six-plus innings of wildly effective ball in Cincinnati’s 8-3 victory over San Francisco.
Leake (10-4) allowed a career-high 12 hits but gave up just one run. He also snapped an 0-for-26 skid — his longest hitless streak — with the third three-hit game of his career.
“I don’t know if that combination happens too often,” Leake said.
The last pitcher to give up at 12 least hits and record three of his own was Houston’s Mike Hampton at Colorado on July 28, 1999.
Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco each drove in two runs to power the Reds to another impressive win against the Giants. After allowing San Francisco to rally from an 0-2 deficit to win the NL division series last fall, Cincinnati finished 6-1 against the Giants this season — and most of the wins weren’t even close.
The Reds outscored San Francisco 45-14 in seven games, including Homer Bailey’s no-hitter on July 2. They also outscored the Giants 31-11 in four games this week at AT&T Park.
The 55 hits in the last four games are the most by a team at San Francisco since the Dodgers had 60 in another four-game series from July 1-4, 1977, at Candlestick Park.
“They pretty much had their way with us,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
In the series finale, the Giants had 15 hits — including five singles by Hunter Pence — while the Reds had just 13 total. But San Francisco was 4 for 16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 on base. Adding to the embarrassment, even the chalk that makes up the batter’s box was off-center.
Buster Posey was out of the starting lineup after playing first base in the opener and catching the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He grounded into a fielder’s choice as a pinch hitter in the seventh, when the Giants loaded the bases with no outs before reliever Sam LeCure shut them down.
Chad Gaudin (4-2) gave up six runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings in his worst — and shortest — start of the year for San Francisco. He also allowed a season-high five walks.
“We’ve played better than them. I don’t really know if there’s a way to explain it,” said Reds right fielder Jay Bruce, who had two hits and also one RBI.
In the last regular-season matchup of this one-sided series, the formula remained the same: early runs and patchwork pitching for a runaway Reds win.
Shin-Soo Choo hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Votto’s flyout to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
In the third, Votto scored from first when Pence missed Phillips’ two-out single to right field. The ball trickled off the glove of Gregor Blanco behind him. Bruce followed with an RBI double, and Mesoraco had an RBI single to put the Reds ahead 4-0.
Pence matched his career high with five hits, including a single in the third that put San Francisco on the board. But after Brandon Belt singled, Jeff Francoeur grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Reds manufactured two more runs in the fourth. Votto drove in a run when he grounded out with the bases loaded, and Phillips hit a sacrifice fly to extend Cincinnati’s lead to 6-1.
The Giants also loaded the bases in the fourth — and wasted that scoring opportunity. Leake got Pablo Sandoval to pop out, ending San Francisco’s rally.
After Votto tripled leading off the sixth, Phillips singled him home. Mesoraco’s two-out single put the Reds up 8-1, sending a large chunk of the announced sellout crowd of 41,512 to the exits.
Sandoval’s two-run double off Logan Ondrusek in the eighth accounted for the only other San Francisco runs.
Reds manager Dusty Baker, mindful of San Francisco’s remarkable rallies last October, even had closer Aroldis Chapman warming up in the bullpen — just in case.
“You can’t figure it out,” Baker said. “We dominated them in the first two games of the series last year, then they came back and won. So it’s just baseball. I’ve been around so long, nothing surprises me too much. I just like to win.”
NOTES: Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong said “everything feels pretty good” after throwing two scoreless innings in his first rehab assignment Tuesday in the Arizona Rookie League. Vogelsong, sidelined since breaking bones in his right pinkie on May 20, will throw about 40-45 pitches for Class-A San Jose at Stockton on Friday. … Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti missed the game after having surgery on his left elbow. He will be back with the team Friday. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner was the active pitching coach, and part-time coach Shawon Dunston was added to the staff. … Reds SS Zack Cozart sat out with a sore hip. He is day to day. … Mat Latos (9-3, 3.53 ERA) starts for the Reds against Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.36) in the opener of a four-game series at the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. … The Giants are off Thursday. They begin a three-game series at home against the Chicago Cubs on Friday.