SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants finally got some relief from the middle of its injury-shattered lineup.
"That's something we have been needing -- those guys in the heart of the order doing some damage," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've been struggling to score runs."
Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez was wildly effective, walking five and striking out five in six innings. He constantly pitched out of jams and forced three inning-ending double plays, giving San Francisco a chance to earn a four-game series split by matching Reds starter Edinson Volquez after six innings.
Ramon Ramirez (2-0) earned the win and Brian Wilson pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save in 20 opportunities.
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"It feels good to contribute. It's just been such a grind out there this season," Huff said.
The Giants don't play them any other way.
Sanchez struggled with his control again but kept the game close. And San Francisco, even banged up with injuries to sluggers Freddy Sanchez and Buster Posey among others, just doesn't lose many close games at home.
Chris Stewart started the seventh with a walk. Then Andres Torres hit a double off Jose Arredondo (0-2), who intentionally walked Miguel Tejada to load the bases with one out.
Arredondo was lifted for left-hander Bill Bray, who didn't fare much better. Schierholtz hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly to center, and Huff followed with a run-scoring single to give the Giants a 4-2 lead.
"Those leadoff walks come back to haunt you, which it did us at least," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We really have to tighten up that part of our game."
The lead was more than enough cushion to back San Francisco's bullpen.
Ramirez, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo held the Reds scoreless for two innings before Wilson entered in the ninth. That's the formula San Francisco used to win the World Series last season, even if it looked like Sanchez might throw the game away early.
Of course, that both starters struggled with their control was no surprise. Sanchez and Volquez entered the game as the top two in the National League in walks and the trend continued to hurt both.
Sanchez hit Joey Votto and walked Jay Bruce to lead off the fourth. Then Scott Rolen hit an RBI double before Edgar Renteria lofted a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Reds a 2-0 lead.
"We pitch 6-7 innings, we're fine with our bullpen," Sanchez said. "Just wanted to keep the game close."
The Giants started their rally in the fourth when Huff doubled down the left-field line to score Schierholtz from first and trim Cincinnati's lead to 2-1. Volquez walked Cody Ross to put runners on first and second with one out, then struck out Brandon Crawford and got Manny Burriss to line out to third.
Schierholtz drew a walk off Volquez to open the sixth. He moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Huff, and scored on Ross' groundout to short to even the score.
Volquez departed with the game tied after six innings, striking out five but walking three. The Reds only other scoring chance came when Votto flied out to left and Ross threw to second to double off Volquez.
The Giants optioned Conor Gillaspie to Triple-A Fresno to make room for Pablo Sandoval, who is rejoining the team in Arizona on Tuesday. ... Giants LHP Barry Zito (sprained right foot) will make his next rehab start at Triple-A Fresno on Thursday. Zito said he feels great and is working on putting "more finish" on his pitches to improve velocity and build late movement. ... Stewart started in place of struggling catcher Eli Whiteside for San Francisco and will start again Tuesday at Arizona. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he wanted to give Whiteside some rest after becoming the everyday starter for the injured Buster Posey. ... The announced crowd of 42,084 was San Francisco's 31st straight sellout to start the season.