PITTSBURGH (AP)—An improbable victory only 12 hours before gave the San Francisco Giants a good feeling when they arrived at the ballpark. Seeing Barry Bonds’ name on the lineup card made them feel even better.
Damian Moss shut out Pittsburgh on five hits over seven-plus innings and the Giants, helped by Bonds’ return, beat the Pirates 3-1 Thursday.
Felix Rodriguez and Tim Worrell finished, with Worrell giving up an RBI double to pinch-hitter Matt Stairs with two outs in the ninth. Worrell then retired Abraham Nunez on a groundout for his seventh save in eight chances.
Bonds, who sat out two games with a stiff neck, singled his first two times up and drove in the first run in a three-run third inning against Kris Benson (2-3).
No doubt manager Felipe Alou welcomed Bonds back, especially with team RBI leader J.T. Snow out with a bruised right forearm. Snow was hit by a Julian Tavarez pitch in the 13th inning of the Giants’ 4-3 victory Wednesday night, but stayed in and scored the decisive run.
The Giants’ 17-4 start is their best since moving to San Francisco and the franchise’s best after 21 games since the 1938 New York Giants were 18-3.
“I felt today we were going to win.” Alou said. “For some reason, the first night here (Tuesday) I didn’t have that winning feeling. Maybe it was the jet lag. But with Barry back, you could tell there was a different feeling in both dugouts.”
Andres Galarraga replaced Snow at first base and finished off the three-run third with the last of four consecutive singles off Benson. Ray Durham walked with one out and, after Neifi Perez flied out, Edgardo Alfonzo, Bonds, Jose Cruz Jr. and Galarraga singled to make it 3-0.
“The guys who play when the starters are out are doing a great job, and you don’t always see that with a lot of clubs,” Snow said. “You don’t see guys contribute like our guys do.”
Cruz hit the tying three-run homer in the eighth Wednesday and had four RBIs in the final two games of the series. The Giants are 14-0-4 in their last 18 series since dropping two of three to the Expos last Aug. 23-25.
Moss (4-0) made certain they would win this series—the Giants are 29-12 against Pittsburgh since 1998—with his dominating effort. He has pitched 14 shutout innings in two career starts against Pittsburgh, seven in a 6-0 Braves’ victory on Sept. 4. Moss was traded to the Giants during the offseason, then shook off a poor spring training.
“It’s always important to get out of the gate strong,” Moss said. “We’re on a good roll and you always want to keep the momentum going.”
The Pirates, losing for the eighth time in 11 games, threatened twice against the left-hander. Reggie Sanders singled and stole second with one out in the fourth and Craig Wilson walked, but Moss struck out Adam Hyzdu and got Rob Mackowiak on a fly ball.
Nunez and Jack Wilson singled to start the eighth to bring on Rodriguez, who got all three batters he faced.
Moss joined the Pirates’ Jeff Suppan, who beat the Giants 5-2 Tuesday, as the first two NL starters to go 4-0. Moss struck out three and walked three.
“He only throws in the mid-80s, but he just baits you with those slow curve balls and changeups,” Jack Wilson said. “You think you’re going to get hits off him, and you end up hitting a lot of weak ground balls. He’s a frustrating guy to hit against.”
For Benson, one bad inning again ruined an otherwise good outing. All four runs he allowed in a 7-2 loss Friday to the Cubs came in the first inning. He has lost three straight starts.
The Pirates are 3-6 on a season-long 12-game home stand and have lost their last five series, all by dropping two of three.
“We expected to play better than this, but we’re still only 21 games intothe season and we’ll play better,” Jack Wilson said.
The Giants have won 25 of their last 29 regular season-games. … Bonds played in his 2,457th game, moving into 50th place. … The Giants are 10-2 on the road, their best away start since they had the same record in 1966. … The Giants have won their last nine series against Pittsburgh. … Bonds is 8-for-14 with a homer against Benson. After he hit a long foul fly ball into the Allegheny River beyond the right-field stands in the fifth, a fan swam to retrieve it. … Benson is 1-5 against the Giants. … Alou reluctantly used Worrell again, even though he threw 41 pitches Wednesday in two shutoutinnings.