CINCINNATI -- It's no coincidence that Dusty Baker referenced his own fortunes after talking about the way Jay Bruce grinded and grinded in his memorable ninth-inning at-bat.

Bruce, so close to being the hero, ultimately came up short.

Baker knows the feeling.

"This is going to take a while for this to heal, but everything heals,'' Baker said Thursday. "Sometimes you just get tired of disappointments."

Only Gene Mauch managed more games than Baker without winning a World Series. Baker's teams have reached the playoffs six times. He has one pennant -- and an almost unfathomable number of painful endings.

This time, it was his old Giants team that finished off the Reds with a 6-4 victory in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. The game left Baker exposed to the familiar second-guessing about how he handled his pitching staff and raised questions about whether he would be back in Cincinnati's dugout for 2013.

In the end, the Reds blew a best-of-five series they led 2-0 -- with the final three games at home.

"Yeah, you get tired of the disappointments, but then you get over it," Baker, 63, said. "It hurts, big time.

"I'm a strong man and I usually get over hurts, and it makes me stronger when I come back."

But will he be back? This was the final season on his contract. General manager Walt Jocketty has yet to weigh in on whether Baker would be back.

The manager, who was hospitalized with a mini-stroke last month, acknowledged his uncertain future.

"I'm not sure where my career is going here in Cincinnati," Baker said. "We're going to talk about that in the next couple of days, but I'm not through managing yet. I have more to do."

Baker has 1,581 career regular season victories, the 19th best total of all time and second only to Jim Leyland (1,676) among active managers. His lone pennant came in 2002, when the Giants lost a seven-game World Series to the Angels.

Baker raised eyebrows Thursday by leaving starter Mat Latos in as the Giants mounted the decisive rally in the fifth inning. Baker even left Latos in to face MVP candidate Buster Posey with the bases loaded.

Posey belted a grand slam for a 6-0 lead.

Baker said he stuck with Latos because he liked the matchup.

"He had two strikes big time on a dangerous hitter who he had gotten out in Buster Posey," he said. "Plus, Buster's hit into 19 double plays, and we were hoping to get another double play at that time.

"But the pitch wasn't where he wanted it to be, and it wasn't a double-play pitch."

Contact Daniel Brown at dbrown@mercurynews.com.