Atlanta (81-45) at San Francisco (75-50)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: San Francisco, CA
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 10:15 pm EDT Thu Aug 21, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves are putting on a scintillating preview of a possible postseason series.

After two dramatic victories, the Giants look to complete a three-game sweep of the Braves at Pacific Bell Park in a series featuring the top two teams in the NL.

Barry Bonds lifted San Francisco to a 5-4 victory over Atlanta in Tuesday’s opening game with a walk-off homer in the 10th inning.

The Giants then rallied for a 2-1 victory Wednesday as Edgardo Alfonzo delivered a bases-loaded single in the ninth. San Francisco entered the series mired in a season-high six-game losing streak.

“Winning the games like that in front of our fans is good. It motivates us,” said Alfonzo.

Shane Reynolds’ impressive shutout bid for the Braves was ruined when Benito Santiago tripled and scored in the eighth on a close call at the plate that tied the game.

“You hate to lose those kinds of games, no doubt, but it was a good game all around,” said Reynolds, who made his longest start of the year. “Everything felt good to me, but we didn’t get it done.”

Santiago had two hits and Rich Aurilla had three for the NL West-leading Giants, who lead the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks by 9 1/2 games.

Gary Sheffield went 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 24 games for the NL East-leading Braves, who own baseball’s best record and have an 11 1/2 -game lead on the second-place Philadelphia Phillies.

Sheffield, who is making a case for NL MVP honors, is hitting .407 (37-for-91) during his hit streak with eight homers and 23 RBIs. He has also reached base safely in 28 straight games.

STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Giants - 1st place, NL West.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Horacio Ramirez (8-4, 4.28 ERA). Ramirez is 0-2 with a 6.21 ERA over his last seven starts and hasn’t won since a 7-3 victory over the New York Mets on July 7. The left-hander allowed six runs—four earned—and seven hits over 4 2-3 innings of Atlanta’s 10-6 win over Arizona on Saturday, walking a season high-tying five and striking out just two. Ramirez didn’t receive a decision in his lone career start against the Giants, allowing two runs and six hits over 6 2-3 innings of the Braves’ 6-3 win on May 10.

GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Schmidt (12-5, 2.49 ERA). Schmidt’s four-game winning streak was snapped with Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Montreal. The former Brave was reached for four runs and nine hits over 4 1-3 innings—his shortest outing of the season. He struck out four and walked one. Schmidt has struggled in his 11 career starts against Atlanta, going 3-6 with a 4.90 ERA.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Sheffield, .337 avg., 99 RBIs and 103 runs; Javy Lopez, 34 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 22 SBs. Giants - Bonds, .337 avg., 38 HRs, 78 RBIs and 89 runs; Marquis Grissom, 9 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Giants, 3-2.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - CF Andruw Jones, who drove in the Braves’ lone run Wednesday, has 33 RBIs over his last 35 games. … C Lopez’s 33 homers as a catcher are one shy of the franchise record and eight short of Todd Hundley’s major league mark. … 2B Marcus Giles was scratched from the Braves’ lineup for Wednesday’s game. Giles was feeling ill, according to the team, and his status for Thursday is uncertain. Giles had hits in 10 of his previous 11 games, including two straight games with homers. Giants - 2B Eric Young, acquired Tuesday from Milwaukee, went 0-for-4 in his Giants debut Wednesday. … The Giants made room for 2B Young by sending OF Todd Linden to Triple-A Fresno and designating LHP Jeff Urban for assignment. … LHP Kirk Rueter hopes to return to the Giants’ rotation this week following an encouraging rehabilitation start for Triple-A Fresno on Tuesday night. Rueter will throw in the Giants’ bullpen on Thursday, and if all goes well, he’ll face Florida on Sunday.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 36-26 on the road; Giants - 43-18 at home.

INJURIES: Braves - INF Julio Franco (finger), 15-day DL; RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Roberto Hernandez (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Holmes (shoulder), 15-day DL. Giants - C Alberto Castillo (wrist), 15-day DL; 2B Ray Durham (leg), 15-day DL; 1B J.T. Snow (groin), 15-day DL; OF Marvin Benard (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Rueter (shoulder), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

H. Ramirez ChC vs. J. Schmidt LAD
12-4 Record 17-5
4.00 ERA 2.34
100 K 208
72 BB 46
1.39 WHIP 0.95