Giants 6, Braves 5

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—The way Randy Winn’s season started, any hit would have been worth celebrating. Getting the winning hit for the Giants provided an added boost.

Winn blooped a single to shallow right field to score the winning run after Lance Niekro led off the ninth with a homer to left, leading San Francisco to a 6-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

“It’s tough to put into words,” said Winn, who went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs to raise his average to .238 after a 2-for-16 start. “You work hard to help the team win. It’s always encouraging when you get hits, no matter what they look like.”

Tim Worrell (1-0) pitched the ninth for the win, while Chris Reitsma (0-1) blew his first save. Winn came up big after pinch-hitter Steve Finley drew an intentional walk.

Andruw Jones had tied the game with a three-run homer off Jason Schmidt in the sixth, and Edgar Renteria gave the Braves the lead on a seventh-inning double.

Chipper Jones sprained his right ankle and twisted his right knee in the eighth inning. The Braves’ third baseman charged in on Mike Matheny’s slow roller with two outs, appearing to get his spikes caught in the soggy field. He grabbed his knee as soon as he went to the ground and rolled around on the field in pain, staying down for several minutes before being helped off.

Jones, who will get a couple of days off before being re-examined Wednesday, said he had a flashback to when he tore a ligament in his left knee in 1994. He heard a pop in his right knee Sunday and it hurt for a few minutes before calming down. The ankle was still in pain later.

“We just have to wait and see how the pain is the next couple of days,” Jones said, wearing a walking air cast on the ankle and no brace on the knee to leave the stadium. “Right now I feel the ankle took the brunt of it.”

Barry Bonds walked twice, grounded out and struck out looking, remaining stalled at 708 home runs one week into the season.

After plate umpire Paul Nauert called the slugger out on strikes in the sixth, Bonds let him know he disagreed. Bonds drew cheers in the seventh when he made a sprinting catch on a high fly by Chipper Jones near foul territory in shallow left.

Bonds “tweaked” his troublesome right knee when he jammed his lead foot into the dirt in his first at-bat—a walk—but didn’t think it would slow him down.

“I popped my knee,” he said. “It shot through my whole body. It calmed down through the game. … I want to stay healthy.”

John Smoltz rebounded from a rough first outing against the Dodgers last Tuesday with seven strong innings, surviving the Giants’ four-run second. He allowed six hits, struck out four and walked two, but his bullpen couldn’t get him a victory.

Bonds drew a five-pitch walk to start the second, then Moises Alou walked. Niekro lined a single to center to score Bonds, then Smoltz made a wild pitch and Alou came sliding into home headfirst for another run. Pedro Feliz followed with a sacrifice fly to right and Winn hit an RBI double three batters later.

“I couldn’t get my feel in the second inning,” Smoltz said. “I felt I lost it and then I got it back. It’s related to the cold weather, and that’s all we’ve had out here.”

Renteria singled to left leading off the sixth to extend his hitting streak to start the season to seven games.

Andruw Jones sent a 3-2 pitch deep into the left-field seats for his second homer of the season, breaking a tie for third place for most home runs to begin a career under one manager. Jones has hit 303 under skipper Bobby Cox, passing Jimmie Foxx and Connie Mack (Philadelphia A’s). Mickey Mantle hit 320 under Casey Stengel and Chipper Jones leads the way with 331 under Cox.

Schmidt who threw 121 pitches in seven innings, struck out four in a row during one stretch, striking out the side in order in the fourth. He started the season opener last Monday at San Diego but picked up the loss in a 6-1 defeat after allowing three home runs in seven innings.

Schmidt doubled and scored in the second. He struck out 10 to mark the 24th time he has had 10 or more in his career.

Notes

Smoltz, facing one of only five teams he had a losing record against, needs eight strikeouts to tie Hall of Famer Bob Feller (2,581) for 23rd place on the all-time list. … Braves leadoff hitter Marcus Giles drew his 10th walk of the season after starting the day with the major league lead. He walked in his final four plate appearances Saturday. He left Sunday’s game in the seventh with a sore right quadriceps. … Injured Giants closer Armando Benitez, nursing a left knee injury, threw on the side for about 20 minutes and believes his mechanics are coming along well. Benitez hopes to throw a bullpen Tuesday and live batting practice sometime next week. … Schmidt, who broke into the big leagues with the Braves in 1995, hit his seventh career double for his 53rd career hit in 12 seasons. … Andruw Jones took over the National League lead for RBIs with 12. … Matheny snapped an 0-for-15 streak with his infield single in the eighth.

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