Rewind: Giants vs. Diamondbacks, Game #4

The San Francisco Giants came into their first game of September baseball with a chance to take a series victory from the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks. Only Curt Schilling stood in their way. The Giants countered with recent acquisition Sidney Ponson, looking for his seventeenth win of the season.

September 1, 2003 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
San Francisco 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 8 0
Arizona 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1

WP S. Ponson (3-3) 8IP 6H 0R 0ER 1BB 3SO 0HR 2.66 ERA
LP O. Villarreal (7-6) 0IP 2H 2R 2ER 1BB 0SO 0HR 2.70 ERA
S T. Worrell (32) 1IP 0H 0R ER 0BB 1SO 0HR 2.27 ERA

Curt Schilling and Sidney Ponson locked into a classic pitching duel, each putting up zero after zero and dazzling the opposition. Both were on top of their game and offensive rallies were nowhere to be seen.

Schilling retired the first five Giant batters of the game before allowing a two-out single to Edgardo Alfonzo in the second, but Jose Cruz, Jr. struck out swinging to leave Alfonzo at first. With one out in the sixth inning, Sidney Ponson picked up his first hit in a San Francisco uniform, doubling into the right center field gap to record the third Giant hit of the game. However, Eric Young grounded out and JT Snow struck out to leave Ponson at second. Marquis Grissom led off the seventh with a single, setting it up for Bonds, who entered the at-bat with eight career homers against Schilling. Bonds was looking for a pitch to drive, but with the count even at 2-2 he could not pull the trigger, taking a fastball on the outside corner for a called strike three.

With Grissom still at first and one out, Schilling turned and threw toward first, but the ball sailed down the right field line, allowing Grissom to advance all the way to third base. Rich Aurilia came up with a chance to drive in a run by making an out, but Schilling struck him out to keep Grissom at third. Schilling then fanned Alfonzo to strike out the side and keep the Giants at bay.

Ponson brought his A-game, matching Schilling zero for zero. He gave up two hits in the first but escaped unscathed, striking out Carlos Baerga to end the inning. He didn't allow another baserunner until the fifth, when Steve Finley opened the bottom half of the frame with a clean single to center. Finley then stole second as Junior Spivey swung through a 3-2 pitch, but Ponson retired the next two batters to keep the Diamondbacks scoreless. Carlos Baerga got on base to lead off the seventh, whacking a 1-0 pitch back up the middle, but Steve Finley grounded into a 3-6-1 double play two pitches later to clear the bases. Spivey flew out to left field to end the inning.

Arizona again threatened in the eighth inning. With two outs, Ponson issued his first walk of the game, throwing four straight out of the zone to Craig Counsell. Alex Cintron then singled to right on the first pitch he saw, putting runners at first and second for the hottest hitter in the Diamondback lineup, right fielder Raul Mondesi. Mondesi worked the count to 2-2, but on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, he popped up to JT Snow in foul ground, ending the inning and the threat.

So after eight full in Arizona, the Giants and the Diamondbacks found themselves still in a scoreless game. Schilling had been lifted for pinch hitter Mark Grace in the eighth, and Arizona manager Bob Brenly brought in his young right-hander Oscar Villarreal, who has made more appearances than any other pitcher in the majors this year.

Villarreal promptly walked leadoff hitter Eric Young, bringing Snow to the plate for the fourth time in the game. After falling behind 1-2 to Villarreal, Snow battled to force the count full and then lined a single to left field, putting two Giants on base for the first time in the game. With Snow at first and Young at second, San Francisco caught a break. Grissom hit a comebacker toward the mound, the ball ricocheting off of Villarreal to where nobody could field it. Grissom was aboard with an infield single, still with nobody out, and the bases were loaded for Bonds.

Lefty specialist Mike Myers was summoned from the bullpen to face Bonds, who brought a .292 lifetime average against Myers into the at-bat. After missing down low with his first pitch, Myers threw a ball right out over the plate and Bonds smoked it into center field for a two-run single, putting the Giants up 2-0 to break the tie.

The Giants did not score again in the inning, but a two-run lead proved to be enough for closer Tim Worrell, who picked up his 32nd save of the season and his fifth of the road trip with a 1-2-3 ninth.

SFDugout's Player of the Game: Bonds provided the only offense for the Giants with his two-run single, and Tim Worrell pitched beautifully in the ninth, but Sidney Ponson is the player of the game. He was once again brilliant for the Giants, coming up with a scoreless eight-inning effort and giving them a huge shot in the arm. In those eight innings of work, he allowed only five hits and walked one, striking out three and lowering his ERA to 3.52.



Stephanie Moy is a diehard Giants fan, born and raised in San Francisco. She loves hearing feedback - good, bad, or otherwise - so if you're so obliged, contact her at a_hole_in_the_bucket@hotmail.com

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