The Reds finished with a 4-3 advantage in the regular-season matchups, which had their share of back-and-forth affairs consisting of late-game drama, pitching duels and everything in between.
"I think you can take something away from it, the experience you get and the knowledge you get when you play a team," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the regular-season meetings. "They played us well. ... They're solid, great starting rotation, great bullpen and outstanding lineup. It's a great matchup, I think, and should be a good series. I know both teams are looking forward to it. You've worked hard to get to this and we're excited about being here."
The two clubs haven't met since July 1, when Angel Pagan's high fly ball to deep right field in the bottom of the ninth was misplayed by Reds outfielder Jay Bruce to give Pagan a run-scoring double and the Giants a walk-off 4-3 win. The game followed a 2-1 Reds win in which Mat Latos' two-hit gem bested Barry Zito, who was impressive in his own right, giving up five hits in six innings.
That four-game series opened with Madison Bumgarner shutting down the Reds, 5-0, with a one-hitter, arguably the most dominant performance in the regular-season series. The shutout extended the Giants' string of 36 consecutive scoreless innings and four straight shutouts, which ended on the first pitch of the very next game when Zack Cozart drilled a Matt Cain fastball into the left-field seats at AT&T Park.
Cain, who takes the mound for the Giants in Saturday's series opener, also has been outdueled this season by Latos, with the Reds taking a 9-2 win behind Latos' seven shutout innings on April 24 after Cain allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings. The Reds got the best of Cain in the two times he faced them this season, with the National League starter for the 2012 All-Star Game starter allowing eight earned runs in 13 innings (5.54 ERA) against them.
"Sometimes you might overthink things," Cain said. "If you go back, most of the times when you give up runs it's mostly poor execution of location. So you really try to mainly focus on that and make better pitches."
The Reds took two of three when they played the Giants at the Great American Ball Park near the end of April, with Pagan's ninth-inning three-run home run in the Giants' 6-5 win saving his club from a sweep. The two teams split a four-game series at AT&T Park two months later in which neither team scored more than five runs in a game and the losing team was held to one run or less in three out of the four.
In their four wins against the Giants this season, the Reds held them to a total of six runs.
"They're a good-pitching team and they have a little bit of a different lineup than when he we saw them earlier," Reds manager Dusty Baker said, referencing a healthier Pablo Sandoval and midseason acquisitions like Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro. "The main thing is you've got to make contact. This is a tough park to hit in, tough park when you are dependent upon the home run, which we are in our park. It's a tough park to have to try to get four or five hits in a row in this park. So our guys are figuring it out, watching film, doing whatever we can do to win the game."
Jay Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.