Wildcard News and Notes

"I noticed [Craig Biggio's] swing was different. I think it's affecting his swing to the point I think it's prudent to give him a day off. If it had not been for that, I wouldn't have given him a day off. We'll give him a day, and, hopefully, it'll be better tomorrow." -- Manager Phil Garner on Sunday after benching Craig Biggio, who was on a 0-for-22 slump and has not collected a hit since Sept. 19.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

--1B J.T. Snow won the Willie Mac Award, named after Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and presented annually to the most inspirational Giant. Snow also won the award in 1997.

--Reliever Scott Eyre was named the Giants' candidate for the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a big-leaguer involved in community service.

--The tentative 2005 schedule schedule was released, and the Giants will open at home against the Dodgers. They host the cross-bay A's June 24-26.

--A field in Daly City, Calif., was dedicated to Bobby Bonds, who died last year of cancer.

Barry Bonds was among those who attended the ceremony.

The field will be used by kids from JFK Elementary School and the Junior Giants League in Daly City.

--An arrest warrant has been issued for the 22-year-old man suspected of killing a Giants fan after the game in which Barry Bonds hit his 700th homer.

Rafael Antonio Cuevas, according to authorities, stabbed Timothy Griffith after the game.

Griffith, 21, of Redwood City, was stabbed to death after he bumped into the rear view mirror of a car containing as many as five men on Terry Francois Boulevard, south of the ballpark's Lot A.

Cuevas would be charged with murder and the enhancement of using a knife.

BY THE NUMBERS: 169 - Marquis Grissom's errorless streak, ending when the center fielder dropped a deep fly by L.A.'s Milton Bradley.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We would like to win the division. I don't think anybody comes to spring training saying, 'We want to win the wild card.' " -- outfielder Dustan Mohr.


HOUSTON ASTROS

--With Jeff Kent serving a two-game suspension, INF Mike Lamb, who has started 53 games this year at third base, made his fourth start of the season at second base Friday. He was back at second Saturday.

"It's been six weeks since I've been out there," Lamb said of second base. "I've got nothing to lose. If they're comfortable putting me over there, I'll go over there even though I haven't practiced there in weeks."

--3B Morgan Ensberg started at third base Friday in place of Lamb, who has received most of the starts at third base since Aug. 28. He started at third base the entire three-game series against the Brewers although he hadn't started at third in consecutive games since Aug. 26-27.

--CF Carlos Beltran met with trainers for treatment on a sore groin Friday night and throughout the three-game series against the Brewers. "It feels better," said Beltran, who was pulled in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night against the Giants after stealing third base. "I'd say it's a little sore. I thought it was going to be really, really sore. But it's the same. If I can play, I'll be there playing." Beltran felt some discomfort after stealing third base, so he told Garner that he probably wouldn't be 100 percent on defense in the bottom of the inning. "I didn't feel anything pull, but I felt pain in the groin," he said. "I'll just take treatment and stretch."

--C Brad Ausmus, who is half Jewish, didn't think it would be fair for him to sit out Friday and Saturday in observance of Yom Kippur, which was observed from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green sat out Saturday's important contest against the San Francisco Giants after playing and hitting a crucial two-run home run Friday night. "I've never been a strong practitioner of the Jewish religion, and it would be unfair to my teammates and the practicing Jews to change now," he said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 21 -- Roger Clemens is on a season-high 21-inning scoreless streak.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I noticed (LF Craig Biggio's) swing was different. I think it's affecting his swing to the point I think it's prudent to give him a day (off). If it had not been for that, I wouldn't have given him a day off. We'll give him a day, and, hopefully, it'll be better tomorrow." -- Manager Phil Garner on Sunday after benching LF Craig Biggio, who was on a 0-for-22 slump and has not collected a hit since Sept. 19. Biggio, who was 0-for-20 over the first five games of the crucial six-game trip, tweaked his left elbow in the first game against the San Francisco Giants.


SAN DIEGO PADRES

--CF Jay Payton is hoping his strong finish to the 2004 season will earn him a second chance in center field for the Padres in 2005. Payton was a disappointment at the plate until his recent 12-game hitting streak. He is signed for the 2005 season although rumors persist that the Padres will try to trade his $4 million contract and seek another center fielder. "As long as I am the guy they want in center, I want to be here," said Payton. "But I consider myself an everyday player. I don't consider myself a fourth outfielder." Payton said his recent success at the plate is a result of opening his stance and "seeing the ball better." "I also had a lot of things going on off the field --more personal stuff going on than ever before -- and my mind wasn't where it needed to be. I'm trying to finish strong and prove to myself and everyone else that I can hit." Payton was hitting .308 on June 5. But over the next three months, he hit only .185 (41-for-222) as the Padres, after failing to acquire Steve Finley, experimented with Freddy Guzman, Terrence Long and Xavier Nady in center. "It would have been great if I had the same approach and clear mind three months ago as I have now," said Payton. "I used to be a guy who changed a lot of things over the course of a season, but this year it wasn't until the end of August that I got into a naturally comfortable position at the plate."

--OF Terrence Long is hitting .356 (16-for-45) as a pinch-hitter this season with a homer and eight RBI and is 5-for-6 with a homer, sacrifice fly and three RBI in his last seven appearances. "I'm ready to hit anytime I step in there," said Long. "I know I can have a good at-bat if I have one a game or four a game. You can't give away at-bats." Despite his prowess as a pinch-hitter, Long said he isn't sure he wants to be known as a pinch-hitter ... although he has come to appreciate the position since coming over from the American League. "In the American League, being a pinch-hitter is something of a joke with the DH ... you might see a pinch-hitter every other week," he said. "I didn't know how important it was until I got to the National League. The pinch-hitter plays a big part in games in this league."

--Peavy is once again atop the National League ERA chart with a 2.25 mark. That is 0.39 ahead of Carlos Zambrano and 0.44 up on Randy Johnson. And Peavy needs to pitch only 1 2/3 innings in his final start of the season Friday night in Arizona to meet the minimum 162 innings to qualify for the title. "Obviously, the ERA title would be nice," said Peavy. "But it's not an individual award. It speaks volumes for our defense and the relievers who got me out of a lot of jams." Randy Jones is the only Padre to ever have the lowest ERA in the National League with a 2.24 mark in 1975.

--LHP David Wells said he would like to have a one-on-one meeting with Padres owner John Moores. "I'd like to talk to John Moores. I wish I had a lot of computer money and could buy a share of this team. I don't know if John knows how close he is to having something spectacular. They have to understand what they have here. They have the type of talent to last a decade like Atlanta. To have three young starters like that and the heart of the bullpen ... they need to lock Peavy in. All they need is a couple of long relievers and a starter (if Wells returns)." Wells is also high on Padres manager Bruce Bochy. "He's a players' manager," said Wells. "He knows the game and is fun to be around. The players like him and get along, but when he talks, people listen."

--RHP Adam Eaton ran his records against the Dodgers to 4-1 this season (2.87 ERA) and 8-2 for his career with Tuesday night's (Sept. 21) 9-4 victory at Petco Park. Eaton, who gave up a two-run homer in the first to Adrian Beltre, was removed after five innings and 103 pitches because the Padres are planning to use him on three days' rest Saturday (Sept. 25) against Arizona. Eaton allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings in that game, won by the Padres.

--C Ramon Hernandez and SS Ramon Vazquez have been hitting back-to-back in the seventh and eighth positions in the Padres order -- the first time in major league history that two players named Ramon have hit back-to-back.

--2B Mark Loretta is the first Padre to have a 200-hit (204 and counting), 100-run (107) and 75-RBI season. He had his league-leading 67th multi-hit game of the season Sunday (Sept. 26). His 204 hits on the year is the fifth-highest total in franchise history.

--Saturday is "jersey day" for the Padres with players wearing replica jerseys to the ballpark. RHP Jake Peavy showed up Saturday (Sept. 25) wearing a replica Lance Armstrong "yellow jersey" from the Tour de France complete with the riding shorts.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3-1 -- Padres' record in games last week when their pitchers worked on three days' rest.

4 -- Season-high RBI by Ryan Klesko on Saturday (Sept. 25).

6 -- 40-save seasons for Trevor Hoffman, extending his own National League record.

12 -- Game hitting streak for Jay Payton (22-for-47) that has raised his average 25 points to .263.

85 -- Wins by the Padres, the fifth-highest total in franchise history.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've said for quite a long time that we need to play with a sense of urgency. Our pitchers have gone out and done that, and mentally we feed off that. But yesterday's win didn't mean anything without today's win and today's win won't mean anything without a win tomorrow." -- Phil Nevin, talking about the Padres' recent successes and remaining plight in the playoff races.

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