Giants 4, Dodgers 2

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Barry Bonds accepted another shelf’s worth of awards, then disappeared into the dugout and left it to his teammates to win without him.

Felipe Alou said throughout spring training that the Giants would find ways to be successful despite the absence of their injured star—and they showed it in their opener, against their rival and in front of a fervid sellout crowd.

Ray Durham scored the go-ahead run on Jose Valentin’s seventh-inning error at third, and Jason Schmidt struck out nine in seven strong innings to lead San Francisco over the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 on Tuesday.

And oh what a Giants debut for Omar Vizquel.

The nine-time Gold Glove shortstop, fighting nerves in the early innings, had a single, a double, a walk and a stolen base. He also combined with second baseman Ray Durham to turn a crucial and difficult double play in the ninth inning—Durham scooped up a slow chopper by Milton Bradley and made an underhand toss to Vizquel, who then leapt over Jeff Kent and threw to first baseman J.T. Snow.

“I’ve been turning that double play for a while,” said Vizquel, who spent the last 11 seasons with Cleveland. “I’m used to making that. No doubt we have a great defensive team.”

What Vizquel considered a routine play was cause for celebration for San Francisco fans who have been starved of great shortstop defense in recent years.

Edgardo Alfonzo, trimmer after a rigorous offseason routine, hit a tying two-run homer in the fourth for the Giants, favored to win the NL West.

“We have to come in every day and be positive,” Alfonzo said. “We know we miss Barry, and everybody knows that. But we don’t have to lay down.”

Scott Eyre retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the eighth, and Armando Benitez worked the ninth for his first save as San Francisco’s new closer. The Giants added a run on pitcher Giovanni Carrara’s throwing error in the eighth.

While it’s only one win, this meant plenty to the Giants, knocked out of playoff contention last fall by their rival in Dodger Stadium. And, in 2000 when the Giants’ fancy new waterfront ballpark opened, Los Angeles swept San Francisco in a three-game set.

“With Barry out, we need everybody to get off to the best possible start with the bat,” said Alou, San Francisco’s third-year manager.

Bonds, recovering from two operations on his right knee, is on the disabled list for the third time in his career, the first since April 18 to June 9, 1999, when he recovered from elbow surgery. Bonds had made 18 straight opening-day appearances, which had been the longest active streak in the majors.

Derek Lowe lost in his Dodgers’ debut, allowing two earned runs and eight hits in seven innings with six strikeouts and two walks. But his defense couldn’t make the routine play when it had to.

“I’m never happy when I lose,” said Lowe, who in his previous start pitched seven shutout innings against St. Louis to complete Boston’s first World Series title since 1918.

Cesar Izturis homered for Los Angeles on the second pitch of the game, his first leadoff homer and the first by the Dodgers since Aug. 9, 2003, against Chicago.

The last time Los Angeles began the season with a leadoff homer had been April 4, 1988, by Steve Sax off San Francisco’s Dave Dravecky. The Dodgers went on to win the World Series that year.

“Izturis hit the home run and it went downhill from there,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. “We didn’t do much offensively and then we surrendered those runs.”

Jason Phillips made it 2-0 with a second-inning sacrifice fly for the defending NL West champions, whose offseason overhaul has everybody curious how this team will respond.

Schmidt, who got the win, didn’t let that one bad pitch to Izturis haunt him. Starting with Phillips’ sacrifice fly, the right-hander retired 10 of the next 11 batters. He also got four straight strikeouts during one stretch that included striking out the side in the sixth.

“I felt like I was in a groove the whole game,” Schmidt said. “It was just fun to go out there and put the ball where you want.”

Bonds received a 1-minute standing ovation from the sellout crowd and emphatically declared “I will be back!” when introduced before the game and given four awards.

He tipped his hat and waved in all directions to the crowd at SBC Park. At one point, appearing emotional, he buried his face in his hat.

“I’m speechless and I want to thank my family for being behind me for all these years,” he said. “I thank God for the blessings he’s given me to be able to play this game. Last but not least, I thank the city of San Francisco. I thank these fans. There are no better fans in the world.”

The game drew a ballpark record 42,788 fans, surpassing the previous record of 42,686 set last July 22 against San Diego.


Felipe Alou, who turns 70 in May, is fighting his third cold of the spring. He will have some time to recover Wednesday, when he serves a one-game suspension he received as an automatic penalty last Sept. 23 when Dustin Hermanson hit Kent with a pitch. Major League Baseball allowed Alou to serve it Wednesday rather than on opening day. Bench coach Ron Wotus will manage Wednesday. … Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda watched the game together from the press box. … Kent, who spent the 1997-2002 seasons with the Giants, was booed lustily every time he came up.

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