posted on Sep, 9 2004 @ 12:19 PM
The San Francisco Giants split a pair of games against fourth-place Colorado and still made up ground in the NL wild-card race.
"It's hard to believe that we split and are in the lead," manager Felipe Alou said after the Giants' 5-3 victory over the Rockies on Wednesday night.
"The wild card, you never win it and you never lose it until the season is over, and there are many contenders and pretenders. It's a mess."
San Francisco lost 8-7 to Colorado on Tuesday night on a two-run homer by Jeromy Burnitz in the eighth inning. The Giants returned to favor this time,
scoring four runs in the eighth to rally for their fourth win in five games.
Edgardo Alfonzo homered and had two RBIs, Marquis Grissom had three doubles and the Giants had 16 hits to move within a percentage point of the
wild-card lead. San Francisco (77-64) is just behind the surging Houston Astros (76-63) and a half-game ahead of Chicago Cubs (74-62).
The Giants close out the season with 15 of their final 21 games against teams in the NL West, a potentially difficult scenario.
"That's fine. Let us fight it out. Let us fight it out in the division. I like it," Giants slugger Barry Bonds said.
Bonds failed to hit a homer in his final game at Coors Field this season, heading to Arizona two short of becoming the third player to reach 700. He
went 1-for-3 and walked once to move within one of the season record of 198 he set in two years ago.
The Rockies also sent him away with scuffed arm protector when Brian Fuentes' first pitch of the ninth inning hit him on the right elbow - perhaps a
going-away present for causing them so many problems this season.
"I tell you what, the guy threw a perfect strike to the next hitter," Alou said.
Bonds also played a role in San Francisco's comeback.
Colorado's Jeromy Burnitz broke a 1-all tie in the sixth inning with a two-run double to give starter Joe Kennedy the lead. Reliever Steve Reed (3-5)
couldn't hold it.
Pedro Feliz led off the eighth inning with a single off Reed, and Bonds followed with a double to right. Alfonzo then hit a bloop single to knock in
Feliz, and Deivi Cruz gave the Giants the lead with a two-run double just inside the line in left. Grissom made it 5-3 with an RBI double off Scott
Tyler Walker (5-1) pitched the seventh for the victory, and Dustin Hermanson got three outs for his 11th save - thanks to Reed's breakdown.
"I had a bad night. I faced four hitters and didn't get anyone out," Reed said. "I haven't had many of these this year. I didn't make good pitches and
I got beat."
Reed command trouble ruined a superb outing by Kennedy.
The left-hander gave up nine hits in seven innings, stranding eight runners with the help of three double plays. First baseman Todd Helton started the
best of the bunch in the fifth inning, diving to catch pitcher Kirk Rueter's sacrifice attempt and doubling up Grissom, who led off with a double.
Alfonzo finally broke through against Kennedy in the sixth inning, hitting his 11th homer to tie the game at 1-all, but it was the only run the Giants
got off him. Kennedy was pulled for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead.
"He pitched well. He was very pitch-efficient," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
Rueter was nearly as good.
The left-hander allowed a run in the first inning on Vinny Castilla's RBI double off the base of the wall in right-center and not much else. He held
Colorado to just two runners over the next four innings and no hits until Royce Clayton hit a one-out double in the sixth.
Rueter followed by walking Castilla to get a favorable matchup against left-hander Burnitz, but the plan backfired. Burnitz lined a two-run double
into right-center, putting the Rockies up 3-1.
Rueter was lifted for a pinch hitter in the next inning, leaving after allowing three runs and four hits.
"If he throws the rest of the way like that, we're in business," Alou said.