SAN FRANCISCO -- With Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner opening the National League Divisional Series at AT&T Park, many of the Giants felt they would be perfectly positioned to kick off another deep postseason run.
Two games in, the Giants are on the verge of elimination.
They looked flat and overmatched in a 9-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday night and now sit one loss from the offseason after the worst postseason shutout in franchise history. Game 3 of the best-of-five series is Tuesday in Cincinnati.
"It's definitely disappointing," catcher Buster Posey said. "With as good as Cainer and Bum are, you definitely would have liked to get at least one game."
A night after Cain gave up three earned runs in five innings, Bumgarner was charged with four in 41/3. Bumgarner had a 2.38 ERA in 15 regular season starts at AT&T Park, but it was Bronson Arroyo who looked right at home on this night.
Arroyo needed just 91 pitches to get through seven one-hit innings. Brandon Belt broke up the perfect game with a two-out single in the fifth, but the Giants didn't have another base runner until the seventh, when Posey drew a two-out walk. Neither runner reached scoring position.
With Arroyo serving up a soft mix of changeups, sinkers and sweeping breaking balls, the Giants went 11 straight batters at one point without getting a ball out of the infield.
"He really kept us off balance," Belt said. "Those (soft throwers) are generally hard to handle for big leaguers because it's such a change of pace."
Bumgarner's pace shifted dramatically in the second inning. In his first postseason appearance since a brilliant eight-inning outing in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series, Bumgarner at first looked headed for another gem. He struck out Zack Cozart and Joey Votto in the first inning and needed just 12 pitches to set down the Reds.
But Ryan Ludwick stunned Bumgarner by crushing a solo homer on a first-pitch fastball in the second inning.
The Reds kept the line moving in the fourth while scoring three more times. Votto hit a leadoff single, and Ludwick followed with a soft base hit. After a pop-up, Scott Rolen drove in a run with a single to right. Hunter Pence overthrew the cutoff man, allowing both runners to advance -- both scored on Ryan Hanigan's single to center.
"Honestly, I felt pretty good," Bumgarner said. "They hit it where we weren't. That's what it seemed like."
Bumgarner wasn't the only one to feel that way. The Giants couldn't get a big hit to fall in Game 1 and couldn't find a hole early in Game 2 as the crowd grew restless. Needing someone to bring some life back to AT&T Park, manager Bruce Bochy called for Tim Lincecum in the sixth inning.
After some initial confusion as Bochy made a double-switch, Lincecum took the mound cold, fired just a handful of warm-up pitches, calmly tied the laces on his cleats and set about retiring the Reds in order.
For a moment, AT&T Park rocked, a sellout crowd urging the Giants to overcome what was then a four-run deficit.
"It felt like that might be the turning point," Posey said. "That's what you hope."
Instead, the Giants went down on just nine pitches in the bottom of the frame.
"It seems like every time we try and get something going, they just don't let us," second baseman Marco Scutaro said.
Scutaro and Angel Pagan were the spark plugs atop the lineup as the Giants cruised to an N.L. West title. But through two games they're just 1 for 17, and the Giants have just two runs on nine hits.
Scutaro ended the regular season with a 20-game hitting streak. But like the rest of the Giants, he has found the sledding much tougher in the postseason.
"Obviously, things haven't gone the way we expected," he said. "It seems like every ball they hit, hard or soft, it finds a hole. They're getting the big hits. Their momentum is really good right now."
The Giants need three straight road wins to keep their season alive. Bochy said he didn't need to deliver a special message after Sunday's blowout.
"We know where we're at right now," he said. "Our backs are to the wall."
Several Giants took solace in that they've been successful on the road this season and pointed out that a three-game run isn't out of the question.
"The plan is to go out there and do the same thing at their field that they did at ours," Belt said.
The Reds, now controlling every aspect of this series, did have four three-game losing streaks in the regular season.
But none of them came at home.