CINCINNATI (AP) — Left-hander Barry Zito will start Game 4 for the San Francisco Giants if they can extend their NL division series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum? He's staying in the bullpen.
San Francisco flew in from the West Coast on Monday trailing 2-0 in the best-of-five series. The Reds can finish it off Tuesday night when Homer Bailey (13-10) goes against 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 on 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 straight decisions. The Giants won the last 11 games that 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 opening game of the series on Saturday night, if San Francisco gets to a 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, and I think he's earned this," 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 are unsure whether right-hander Johnny Cueto will be available if there's a Game 4. He started the series opener but left in the first inning with back spasms. If he's unavailable, the Reds could start Mat Latos, who relieved Cueto on Saturday night.
Cueto's uncertain status isn't much of an issue with the Reds.
"Everybody is staying calm, not worrying if Johnny is able to pitch in the future," right-hander Bronson Arroyo said Monday. "We don't even know now, and I don't think anybody is panicked about it because we feel we're deep enough to compete regardless."