Giants runners advanced to second and third after a passed ball squeaked by Ryan Hanigan in the top of the 10th inning, leaving first base unoccupied. With two outs and Jonathan Broxton on the mound, Baker opted to pitch to the No. 8 hitter Joaquin Arias instead of walking him to get to the pitcher's spot and load the bases.
The move would have forced San Francisco to use its last position player -- Hector Sanchez -- and remove Sergio Romo from the game.
"In that situation, we knew that Arias was good against left-handers, and not that good of a hitter against right-handers," Baker said Wednesday. "Plus you had a chance to get Romo out of the game, but you had a dangerous pinch-hitter in Sanchez up next, he gets a hit or home run or whatever it is, Sanchez is a very good hitter. I don't want to put my pitcher in that situation."
Arias is hitting .270 on the year and .240 against right-handers, while Sanchez, a switch-hitter, is batting .280 with a .266 average against righties.
As the story goes, Arias bounced a grounder toward third baseman Scott Rolen, who fumbled the ball, committed an error and allowed the game-winning run to cross the plate in the Reds' 2-1 loss.
"In that situation, we had him out," Baker said. "It's not like he got a hit."
Romo has made two appearances against the Reds this postseason, pitching three perfect innings. Had Romo been removed, the Giants may have turned to Tim Lincecum, who was warming up in the bullpen the inning before.
"If Arias would have walked, I had to hit for him, so Timmy would have come in," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I knew Romo could give us two, that's why he went the ninth. Normally in a tie game you try to save your closer, but I knew with him going two innings I was going to start the ninth with him and have him pitch the ninth and 10th, and it worked out -- and I had a safety valve in Timmy, who was our long guy, and if that game is tied, then he comes in the game."
Lincecum came on in relief for just the second time in his career in the Reds' 9-0 win in Game 2, allowing one hit and striking out two in two innings.