But it seemed to be deja vu all over again. After struggling mightily for two innings, Tomko pitched better his next three, shutting out the Astros, giving his team a chance to catch up.
Pettitte was cruising until the fourth. He easily got Tucker to ground out and then Bonds to pop out. But suddenly, the Giants put together a two-out rally. Edgardo Alfonzo singled, and A.J. Pierzynski followed that with a single of his own. Marquis Grissom worked a walk, and suddenly, the bases were loaded. And up to bat was the Pettitte-killer, Neifi Perez. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Perez ripped a double down to left field, clearing the bases. The Giants then took the 3-1 advantage, a lead they would give up.
The Astros refused to roll over and die, even after the Giants tacked on another run in the fifth, when Michael Tucker doubled to score Ray Durham. Adam Everett got it started with a single off Tomko. Jeff Bagwell singled as well, and that ended Tomko's night. Jim Brower came in but struggled. Former Giant Jeff Kent singled to score Everett. Brower then walked Berkman to load the bases. With one out, Mike Lamb hit a fly ball just deep enough to score Bagwell.
The Giants answered with two runs of their own, led once again by Neifi Perez. After Grissom singled with one out, Perez dumped a double into center field, sending Grissom home. Pinch hitter Pedro Feliz singled too, scoring Perez.
Then entered David Aardsma, making his major league debut. Aardsma pitched two quality, though hardly easy, innings. He allowed three hits, walked one, but did not allow any runs.
Felix Rodriguez wasn't quite as lucky. Rodriguez came into the eighth with a four run lead. He struck out Biggio to lead off the inning, but then disaster. On a 1-2 count, he hit Everett on the elbow. Then on a 0-2, he barely nicked Bagwell's uniform, but it was enough to count as Bagwell as a hit batsman. After getting Kent to pop out, Jason Christiansen came in to face Berkman. Berkman walked to load the bases. In came Matt Herges. Richard Hidalgo singled to left field, scoring Everett and Bagwell.
Herges came back to pitch the ninth, and this time his save was hardly as easy as last night's. With one out, pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro singled. Then Everett singled too. With two on two out, Jeff Bagwell stepped up to the plate. After running the count full, Herges finally got Bagwell to fly out to secure his second save.
SFDugout Player of the Game: This one's got to be obvious. With the rook getting the win while making his major league debut as home with 33 family members and friends watching, it's a no-brainer (even if Neifi batted in four). It wasn't easy, but David Aardsma managed to make it through two innings. And now that he's got his debut out of the way, we can only expect greater things from this young arm.
Michelle Lo, also known as the Armchair Manager, writes recaps and other miscellaneous articles and designs some of the graphics at SFDugout.com. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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