Braves 5, Giants 3
Jaret Wright set a career high with his 13th win and drove in the go-ahead run in Atlanta’s 5-3 victory Friday night over the San Francisco Giants with a bases-loaded bunt in the sixth inning that Braves manager Bobby Cox did not call.
“He just pushed it on his own, and it worked out,” Cox said, cracking a smile after the Braves opened the four-game series with their fifth straight victory.
Wright (13-6) thought he got the bunt sign with the game tied at 3 and one out in the sixth.
“I looked over and thought I saw it,” he said. “I was thinking maybe they don’t want me to strike out. I just tried to get it in play.”
Julio Franco, standing on third base, was not running with the pitch.
“The third base coach was telling me nothing is on,” Franco said. “To see Wright square around was a bit of a surprise.”
Giants pitcher Matt Herges fielded the ball. Because Franco was late breaking from third, Herges had a play at the plate but instead settled for the out at first base as Franco scored the go-ahead run. Herges said he didn’t hear Giants catcher A.J. Pierzynski calling for him to throw home.
“Yeah, I screwed up,” Herges said. “I didn’t hear it, but I guess someone was yelling. … I think it caught everybody off guard, even the runner.”
Bonds hit a three-run shot for his 694th homer, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning.
Wright was 12-10 with Cleveland in 1998 but had not won in double figures again before emerging as a surprising strength in the Braves’ rotation. He pitched seven innings, giving up six hits and three runs.
The Giants remained one game behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL wild-card race. The Braves still lead Florida by 9 1/2 games in the NL East.
Bonds was 1-for-3 with a walk. After Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two-out single off Chris Reitsma in the eighth inning, Cox brought in left-handed reliever Tom Martin to face Bonds, who took a called third strike on a backdoor sinker to end the inning.
“I don’t know what the pitch was, but it just froze me,” Bonds said. “That last pitch just froze me.”
John Smoltz worked a perfect ninth for his 35th save in 38 chances.
Wright matched Kirk Rueter (7-10) through five scoreless innings before giving up back-to-back singles to Ray Durham and J.T. Snow to open the sixth. Alfonzo’s grounder forced Snow at second base, bringing Bonds to the plate.
When Wright threw Bonds three straight balls, it appeared the Braves would be content to load the bases. But after taking a strike, Bonds hit a fastball an estimated 365 feet for his 36th homer of the season, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead.
“I think he got a little more over the plate than he wanted,” Bonds said.
Said Wright: “I was pretty upset when he hit the homer because he’s the guy you don’t want to let beat you.”
Jones has 11 homers and 28 RBIs in August. With 72 RBIs, he has revived his hopes of driving in at least 100 runs for a ninth straight season.
After Jones’ homer, Rueter walked Franco. Giants manager Felipe Alou brought in Herges, who gave up a single to Andruw Jones and, one out later, issued an intentional walk to Eddie Perez to load the bases for Wright.
Rueter, who gave up eight hits and four runs in five innings, is still looking for his first victory against the Braves since Sept. 11, 1999, when he worked eight innings in a 3-2 win in San Francisco. Since then, he is 0-5 in seven starts against Atlanta. He is 3-9 in his career against the Braves.
Rueter made his 253rd start with the Giants, moving past Mike McCormick for 10th place on the team’s career list. Rueter leads Giants pitchers with 27 starts this season. … With his first-inning single, Giles has a six-game hitting streak.