"Boy, Bronson was dealing tonight and Zito was dealing," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Rarely do you see a 1-0 game at this ballpark. That was tough to take. It's getting tough now. We just have to tighten our belt. We have to win [Thursday]."
It was only the sixth 1-0 game in the 547-game history of Great American Ball Park, but the second this season. The two teams played a scoreless game until the top of the eighth. Edgar Renteria hit a one-out single and scored on next batter Nate Schierholtz's double to left field.
Left fielder Wladimir Balentien made a diving attempt for the ball but it sailed past his glove and rolled to the wall. That ended Arroyo's team-high 17-inning scoreless streak. He was coming off a two-hit shutout of the Nationals in his previous start Thursday.
"That ball was coming back on Balentien," Baker said. "I thought he had it. It looked like it went right through him."
And that was all it took to hold down an injury-depleted Reds lineup that featured four players that began the season at Triple-A Louisville -- including two called up this week. Center fielder Drew Stubbs made his big league debut and first baseman Kevin Barker had to pinch-hit for Joey Votto in the bottom of the first inning when Votto went out with blurred vision.
Votto is the Reds' best hitter and his absence left Brandon Phillips as the sole Opening Day starter on the field for the Reds. They already came into the night with a .240 team batting average that was the lowest in the Major Leagues.
"In my mind after Joey went out of the lineup, and I saw how the game was going, I figured I'd have to try and throw a shutout to get a win," Arroyo said. "It's tough to score runs when we have everybody out. It's getting tougher without some of the guys we depend on."
Arroyo (11-12, 4.56 ERA) allowed nine hits and one walk with five strikeouts. But Zito, who pitched six innings, held the Reds hitless for the first 4 2/3 innings.
"It's one of those games where you look up at the board and you go, 'Well, he's throwing a no-hitter and I've given up five. Maybe I will sneak out with the win,'" Arroyo said. "A lot of times that happens. It didn't happen today."
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Adam Rosales hit a check-swing, bloop single into short right field for the first Reds hit. The only other one was a bloop double inside the right-field line by Stubbs for his first big league hit.
"That was awesome," Stubbs said. "It wasn't the way you'd want to do it with driving the ball. But a hit is a hit and a double is even better. I will take it any day."
Zito was lifted for a pinch-hitter before the Giants scored and reliever Sergio Romo (4-2) earned the victory. Brian Wilson recorded his 30th save as the Reds' last 11 batters went down in order.
"You don't really know a guy's tendencies, so you just go to your strengths," Zito said about facing mostly unknown hitters. "It was big not having Votto in there. That was a surprise. It's big whenever you can get their best hitter out."
The outing was Arroyo's fifth straight quality start since July 28 but he's got only one victory in that stretch while his lineup has scored two runs or fewer four times.
"Bronson threw a great game," Baker said. "You knew sooner or later, something was going to break. The breaks aren't going our way. It seems like we've dove for five balls in the last week and haven't caught any of them."