Rewind: Giants at Braves, Game #1

Two teams hotter than the soaring temperatures in the Bay Area hooked up on Friday night in Atlanta's Turner Field, but it was the Braves who were able beat the heat, as well as the Giants, en route to a 5-3 victory.

Jamey Wright (13-6) and Kirk Rueter (7-10) were locked up in a pitching duel, heading into the sixth inning, when both teams finally broke through with runs in both halves of the frame.

Barry Bonds tagged Wright with a three-run shot to the opposite field, breaking a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth. It was Bonds' 36th homerun of the season and the 694th of his career, giving the Giants (71-59) a 3-0 lead.

"I think he got a little more over the plate than he wanted,'' Bonds said of Wright.

Rueter cruised through the first five innings, getting in and out of trouble, before finally surrendering three runs to the Braves (74-53) in the bottom of the sixth, the key hit being Chipper Jones' two-run blast to center field, that tied the game up at 3-3.

Still in the bottom of the sixth, Matt Herges came in relief after Rueter walked Julio Franco. The next batter, Andruw Jones, greeted Herges with a single to left field. Eli Marrero then bounced a groundball back to Herges, advancing both Jones and Franco to second and third base, respectively.

Herges then intentionally walked the number eight hitter, Eddie Perez, to get to the pitcher, Wright, loading the bases with only one out. After two quick strikes on Wright, the Braves put on a safety squeeze play that surprised Herges, who picked the ball up and fired to first base without checking to see where Franco, the runner at third, was. Franco scored to give the Braves a 4-3 lead.

"The third base coach was telling me nothing is on,'' Franco said. "To see Wright square around was a bit of a surprise.''

Replays showed that Franco advanced slightly from third on the play, but did not break for home plate until he saw the ball bunted on the ground. Herges had a mental lapse as he assumed the play was a suicide squeeze, and did not bother looking at Franco. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski screamed incessantly for Herges to throw the ball to home plate, but to no avail.

"Yeah, I screwed up,'' Herges said. "I didn't hear it, but I guess someone was yelling. ... I think it caught everybody off guard, even the runner.''

The botched play proved to be enough as Wright, with the help of his bullpen, shut down the Giants the rest of the way.

Atlanta added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning when defensive replacement Cody Ransom threw wildly to first base on a grounder hit by Marcus Giles, allowing Charles Thomas to score from second base, extending the lead to 5-3.

John Smoltz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve the Braves win and notched his 35th save of the season.

Game Notes: Bonds had a chance to bring the Giants closer in the top of the eighth inning with a runner on, but struck out looking on a pitch from Tom Martin that froze him...The game time temperature was 86 degrees with 70% humidity... Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Diego all lost on Friday, keeping the Giants four games out of the NL West lead and one game out of the Wild Card.

SFDugout.com Player of the Game: Atlanta's Jamey Wright, who is another of the Braves reclamation projects to turn his career around. Wright won his career-high 13th game of the season and dropped down the bunt that surprised everyone involved to drive in the go-ahead run. San Francisco's Barry Bonds, who inches closer to the 700 club.



Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at phildelacruz@aol.com to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.

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