SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Matheny has always prided himself on being one of the best defensive catchers in the game.
He doesn't mind a big hit now and then, too.
Matheny connected for his ninth homer on a 3-2 pitch in the fifth, a shot into the left-field seats that established a career high for home runs in a season for the player who manager Felipe Alou considers "the best defensive catcher I've ever had."
"It's been nice to come through with some big hits," Matheny said. "That's what I like to say I can contribute to this team. I'm still batting like .237 and I could have a lot more consistent at-bats. ... I'm not going to be Barry Bonds."
His four RBI matched a career high, which he's done nine times and twice this season. The 34-year-old Matheny shares the National League lead for homers by a catcher with Chicago's Michael Barrett, and leads all major leaguers at the position with 42 RBI.
And what a time to be playing well -- he will be presented with his Gold Glove award from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Friday before Matheny faces his former team.
"I told the Giants they could just set it in my locker and I'd be just as gratified," said Matheny, who noted he didn't have a hit all of batting practice before the game. "As a defensive-minded catcher, that's the ultimate compliment."
Ken Griffey Jr. doubled, singled and scored a run and Joe Randa had an RBI triple for the Reds, who needed a win for their first road series victory this season.
Tomko (6-10), who has 10 losses in the first half for the first time in his career, was briefly demoted to the bullpen and missed his last turn. But the Giants needed him to start considering the struggles of Jeff Fassero and Kirk Rueter, who was removed from the rotation Wednesday.
Tomko left in the sixth after loading the bases with no outs. Jason Christiansen immediately struck out Adam Dunn, then Scott Munter entered and got Wily Mo Pena on a foul popout to first before shortstop Omar Vizquel leaped to make a pretty stop of a line drive by Javier Valentin.
Vizquel smiled in delight and Tomko pumped both fists in the dugout.
"If anything, it let my arm get a little bit of a rest," Tomko said of the bullpen stint. "Mentally, I was fine. I went out there and pitched. I tried to go full tilt from pitch one. I ran out of gas in the sixth."
The right-hander broke into the big leagues with the Reds in 1997, pitching for them until '99. This was his first win over Cincinnati since Aug. 30, 2003, while with the Cardinals. He gave up one run and six hits in five innings, struck out four and walked two.
Aaron Harang (4-8) outpitched Tomko until Matheny's home run. But Harang's career-worst losing streak reached six -- the longest by a Reds pitcher this season -- after he went 3-0 in May. His last victory came May 30 at Houston, a span of seven starts.
"I left a slider up to Matheny," he said. "I faced him when he was with the Cardinals and he seems more locked in now."
The right-hander got through the first three innings on 35 pitches. He allowed two earned runs and four hits, struck out eight and walked one. He wasn't helped by the fact the Reds were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine baserunners.
"Aaron made one bad pitch, and Matheny hit it out," Reds interim manager Jerry Narron said. "But if he keeps pitching the way he is, he'll get some wins. Our problem has been not coming through with runners in scoring position."
San Francisco played without starting second baseman Ray Durham for the second straight game. He was a late scratch Wednesday after straining his left wrist in batting practice. He was available Thursday as a pinch-hitter or late-inning defensive replacement.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect eighth, his first 1-2-3 inning since his debut for the Giants on May 29 after being traded from the Cubs. "We got the man back," Giants skipper Felipe Alou said. ... Matheny hit eight homers in both 1996 and 2003. ... Injured Giants closer Armando Benitez, recovering from surgery to reattach two torn hamstring tendons to the pelvis, threw off a mound for the first time since his May 3 operation. He also did some light jogging, another sign of progress. He hopes to pitch this season. ... The Giants plan to call up RHP Brad Hennessey from Triple-A Fresno to start Saturday against St. Louis. The club hasn't decided on a corresponding move.