CINCINNATI -- Marlon Byrd provided three RBIs, with his solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning giving the Reds a 4-3 victory over the Giants on Thursday -- their third straight win.
Cincinnati was up, 3-2, in the eighth inning when Joe Panik hit a triple off reliever Tony Cingrani that landed near the left-field line and just out of the reach of a sliding Byrd. With the infield playing in, Panik scored the tying run on Angel Pagan's single, which lined off the glove of first baseman Joey Votto and into right field. In the bottom half, with Sergio Romo pitching with one out, Byrd hit a 1-1 slider into the left-field seats for his eighth homer of the season -- and sixth in 11 games.
"The last at-bat with Romo, I was praying he didn't throw a fastball or that sweeping slider you just can't touch," Byrd said. "He just left it out over the plate. I put a good swing on it."
It was the second night in a row the Giants lost on a solo homer in the eighth. On Wednesday in Houston, George Springer took Jeremy Affeldt deep.
Jumbo Diaz retired the final two batters of the top of the eighth inning for the win in relief. Aroldis Chapman closed it out for the Reds with a 1-2-3 ninth and earned his seventh save.
It was a no-decision for both starting pitchers. The Giants' Tim Lincecum gave up three runs, five hits and five walks over 4 2/3 innings. Reds ace Johnny Cueto gave up two earned runs and five hits over seven innings, with three walks and nine strikeouts.
"[Cueto] found his game, and he was tough. I don't think we took full advantage of him early," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Cueto gave up Buster Posey's RBI single in the first inning and saw a run score in the third when he was called for a balk. Lincecum allowed two hits in the fourth, including Brayan Pena's RBI single through the middle. Byrd hit a two-out, two-run single to right field in the fifth inning to end Lincecum's night.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED A soft hit, but a big one: The Reds were down, 2-1, in the fifth when Lincecum hit Todd Frazier with a 2-2 pitch with two outs. That loaded the bases for Byrd, who lofted a soft two-run single into right field. Byrd has five RBIs in his last three games and 14 for the month. More >
Angel in the outfield: Pagan twice saved Lincecum from disaster. He snagged Zack Cozart's one-out bomb just before running into the outfield wall in the first inning, then extinguished a potential Reds rally in the fourth when he caught Skip Schumaker's fly ball and fired to first base before Pena could scramble back to the bag.
"[Pagan is] playing great," Bochy said. "He gives you speed, good at-bats and great defense."
Balk on home: Cueto and the Reds fell into a two-run deficit in the third inning on a mistake by the ace. With runners on the corners, two outs and Posey up, Cueto lifted his glove slightly and was called for a balk by third-base umpire Tom Hallion. That allowed Gregor Blanco to score. It was the fourth time this season Cueto has been called for a balk.
"My hands got caught [in] my shirt, and I could not get them out, so I did that twice. Yes, it was a balk," Cueto said through translator Tomas Vera.
Blanco, then Blank-O: Blanco gave the Giants an early spark with hits in his first two at-bats against Cueto, including a one-out double down the left-field line in the third inning. Blanco would later score on Cueto's balk, but San Francisco would not manage another hit off Cueto until the seventh.
"They're an excellent lineup, and they put the ball in play. This is not typical for them to strike out 11 times in a game. They grind out their at-bats. They're very, very good with runners on base and runners in scoring position. [Cueto] did a great job of managing a difficult lineup and a team that's been playing very well over the course of the last 15 to 18 games." -- Reds manager Bryan Price, on the Giants
The Giants lost a replay challenge in the eighth inning. Cingrani walked Andrew Susac to lead off the inning, then fired a pickoff throw with Panik batting. First-base umpire Dan Bellino called Susac out, a call that was upheld following a review.
"[Cingrani] has a good move," Bochy said. "That ended up being a big pickoff."
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: The second game of the four-game series will be on Friday at 4:10 p.m. PT at Great American Ball Park. Madison Bumgarner (3-2, 3.30 ERA) will start. He is 2-4 with a 5.05 ERA in seven starts (including the postseason) against the Reds.
Reds:Jason Marquis, who will make the start at 7:10 p.m. ET, has some decent numbers over his career against San Francisco. Over 17 games, he is 7-5 with a 2.95 ERA.
Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com. Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.