Giants 2, Braves 1
Alfonzo hit a bases-loaded single in the ninth as the Giants won their second straight thriller, making two late rallies for a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
With Barry Bonds’ ailing father, Bobby, watching from a luxury suite, the NL’s top two teams played their second straight riveting game—this one featured an ejection, two injuries and a triple that seemed to defy the laws of baseball physics even before the dramatic finale.
After the Giants tied it in the eighth and escaped a jam in the ninth, Cruz gave his prediction to Alfonzo as San Francisco headed for the dugout: Alfonzo would be the Giants’ latest hero.
“He told me exactly what would happen,” Alfonzo said. “I just did what he said. Winning the games like that in front of our fans is good. It motivates us.”
Shane Reynolds’ impressive shutout bid for the Braves was ruined when Benito Santiago tripled and scored in the eighth, and the Giants won it in the ninth with a small-ball rally against Kevin Gryboski (6-4).
Aurilia fooled Atlanta’s infield by bunting for his third hit. He advanced to third on Marquis Grissom’s one-out bloop single to right—and after the Braves intentionally walked Barry Bonds, Alfonzo slapped a ground-ball single through the middle of the drawn-in infield, scoring pinch-runner Neifi Perez.
After beginning his tenure in San Francisco with three miserable months, Alfonzo has begun to produce the way the Giants hoped he would. He entered Wednesday’s game hitting .328 since June 28.
“You can’t keep good players down for a whole season,” Aurilia said. “He’s going to get big hits at big times, because that’s the kind of player he is.”
The Giants beat Atlanta on Tuesday night on Bonds’ game-ending homer in the 10th inning.
Reynolds seemed poised to collect his fourth victory in five starts after allowing five hits over eight outstanding innings. But Santiago hit an odd triple off the top of the left-field wall in the eighth, then scored when Mark DeRosa fell down while trying to catch Andres Galarraga’s pop fly.
Sheffield extended his hitting streak to 24 games with a first-inning double, but with superstar closer John Smoltz sitting on the bench, the Braves’ bullpen failed its starter for the second straight night. The Giants’ bullpen pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings.
“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.”
San Francisco manager Felipe Alou was ejected in the eighth for arguing about Santiago’s strange extra-base hit.
With one out in the eighth, Santiago hit a drive into the left-field corner. Jones leaped and missed it, but the ball apparently bounced off the top of the wall and back onto the field.
Third base umpire Sam Holbrook ruled the ball in play, spurring Santiago out of his home run trot. Home plate umpire Randy Marsh ejected Alou in the ensuing rhubarb.
“After I got thrown out, I found out the ball didn’t go out,” Alou said. “I told them to throw me out, because I’ll be (arguing) for one hour, but I’m glad that the guys made the right call.”
Moments later, Marsh ruled Santiago safe at the plate when the catcher slid home after DeRosa fell down on the slick grass while circling under Galarraga’s pop fly to shallow right field.
“It’s a play I’ve got to make in a situation like that,” DeRosa said. “I let Shane down, and I let the team down. Terrible. I just slipped.”
All-Star catcher Javy Lopez left in the middle of his at-bat in the eighth after fouling a pitch off his left leg. Lopez left the field easily, but the Braves didn’t immediately have an update on his condition.
Jesse Foppert, San Francisco’s promising rookie starter, also left after 3 2-3 innings with numbness in his right hand, apparently due to a problem with his right elbow. Foppert will be re-examined on Thursday.
The Braves got their only run in the third when Sheffield singled, stole second, advanced on a groundout and scored on Andruw Jones’ soft single. TheGiants shut down the majors’ most prolific lineup for the rest of the game.
2B Marcus Giles was a last-minute scratch for Atlanta after he felt ill during batting practice. DeRosa started in his place. … Barry Bonds missed four games during San Francisco’s six-game losing streak last week to be with his father, who has lung cancer and other ailments. When Bobby Bonds’ name was displayed on the scoreboard in the first inning, the San Francisco crowd gavehim a lengthy standing ovation.