CINCINNATI -- Hardly able to get a hit, the San Francisco Giants used a misplayed grounder to prolong their National League playoff series.
Third baseman Scott Rolen's two-out error in the 10th inning gave the Giants the go-ahead run Tuesday night in a 2-1 victory against the Cincinnati Reds, who couldn't shake 17 years of home postseason futility.
The Giants avoided a sweep and their division series deficit to 2-1.
Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, couldn't come up with Joaquin Arias' short-hop grounder, bobbled it and threw late to first.
"I've gone through the play many times in my mind between then and now, and I think I would play it the same way," Rolen said. "It hit my glove. I just couldn't get it to stick."
The Giants managed only three hits against Homer Bailey and the Cincinnati relievers, but got two of them in the 10th -- along with a passed ball by Ryan Hanigan -- to pull it out. San Francisco won despite striking out 16 times.
"We kept scratching and clawing, down two games to none," reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. "That's the way it is in the playoffs."
Cincinnati finished with four hits, one after the first inning.
Left-hander Barry Zito will pitch Game 4 today for the Giants, who have won the past 11 times he started.
The Reds have to decide whether to try ace Johnny Cueto, who was forced out of the opener Saturday in San Francisco because of spasms in his back and side.
Manager Dusty Baker said after the game that no decision had been made about whether to let Cueto try it, bring back veteran Mat Latos on short rest again, or replace Cueto with Mike Leake, who was not on the roster for this division series.
Replacing Cueto would leave the Reds ace ineligible to pitch in the championship series should the Reds get that far.
"It's very difficult, but it all depends on if your ace can't go or whatever it is," Baker said. "That's part of the conversation -- us going without him.
"We realize what's at stake."
The Reds have not won a home playoff game since 1995, the last time they reached the NL Championship Series.
Bailey made his first start at Great American Ball Park since his Sept. 28 no-hitter in Pittsburgh and allowed only one hit in seven innings, the latest dominating performance by a Reds starter.
Marco Scutaro singled in the sixth for the only hit against Bailey.
Fortunately for the Giants, Bailey's one lapse let to a run. He hit a batter, walked another and gave up a sacrifice fly by Angel Pagan in the third.
Meanwhile, the Reds set a season high for strikeouts, and closer Aroldis Chapman got two of them on 100 mph fastballs in a perfect ninth, keeping the score tied, 1-1.
San Francisco's one-hit wonders finally got it going against reliever Jonathan Broxton, who gave up leadoff singles by Buster Posey -- the NL batting champion -- and Hunter Pence, who pulled his left calf on a wild swing before getting his hit.
With two outs, Hanigan couldn't come up with a pitch, letting the runners advance. Arias' tough-chance grounder then put Rolen in a tough spot -- charging the ball for a quick short-hop swipe.
He couldn't come up with it cleanly, and Arias beat the throw.
Baker, 63, was back in the home dugout at Great American Ball Park Tuesday for the first time in nearly a month, recovered from an irregular heartbeat and mini-stroke. After a pregame ovation, he settled in his red folding chair with a toothpick on his lips.
The second-largest crowd in Great American history was still getting the hang of playoff rooting. A video board message instructed the 44,501 fans not to wave white rally towels while the Reds were in the field -- could be distracting.
But it did not take long to get those towels twirling.
Brandon Phillips led off with a single, but he was thrown out at third base when he tried to advance on a ball that got away from Posey.
It was costly because Cincinnati went on to score on a walk and a pair of singles, including Jay Bruce's RBI hit to right, then got only one more hit the rest of the way.