Rewind: Giants vs. Pirates. Game #3

If you followed the Giants offseason to any degree, you probably heard all the AARP jokes about San Francisco's well-publicized geriatric roster. However, with rookies Brad Hennessey, Lance Niekro and Jason Ellison providing a spark on Sunday, the G-Men have to ask: Who's laughing now?

The three young rookies lead the old fogeys past the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-3, at PNC Park in front of 22,100 fans, which included many friends and family members of the Giants players.

One group of Giants fans, Hennessey's wife (Erin) and daughter (Emma), had plenty to cheer about as their man (Brad) provided his team with a welcome quality start.

San Francisco (13-11) called up the rookie right-hander just hours after Saturday's game to make his 2005 debut on Sunday and he responded with seven stellar innings of five-hit ball, while striking out six batters.

Hennessey's only blemishes came off the bat of Daryle Ward, who homered twice to supply the Pirates only runs. The 25-year-old Hennessey (1-0) even displayed his batting prowess by knocking in a run in the fourth inning off Pirates starter Oliver Perez (1-3).

"He pitched a great ballgame," Giants manager Felipe Alou told MLB.com. "He's so complete. What he did was not a fluke. This guy can pitch."

Another group of Giants fans, a contingent that included ex-Major Leaguer Joe Niekro, were blessed with the opportunity to see their pride and joy, Lance Niekro, in a rare start at first base.

"Just to see that name ‘Niekro' on the back in a Major League park creates a great sense of pride," the elder Niekro told the Associated Press. "He got me out of my chair in a hurry. It was great."

Joe Niekro was referring to the no-doubt-about-it blast his 26-year-old son hit to deep left field in the fifth inning. The Giants rookie first baseman went 2-for-5 with three RBI.

Another proud papa was Felipe Alou, who acknowledged that his son Moises is finally starting to feel comfortable with his new surroundings and slowly getting past the injuries that have plagued him the last few weeks.

The Giants big offseason acquisition, one of the many veterans added in the winter, reached base five times on Sunday, going 3-for-3 with two walks and three RBI.

"I feel good now but this is just one game," Alou said. "You have ups and downs; it's just a matter of seeing the ball better. I wasn't worried. We have a good team here. I have some good hitters around me. My numbers are going to be ok, so I'm not worried."

With Hennessey pitching so well, San Francisco did not have to worry about blowing a big lead against Pittsburgh (8-15), but the Giants skipper still used four relievers in the last two innings.

The G-Men will face a dilemma with Hennessey because they have a day off on Thursday and may not need their fifth starter until May 10.

"I'm not sure what they're going to do with me since they don't need another (spot starter) for a while," Hennessey said. "I'll just let the schedule work itself out."

The Giants schedule takes them to Arizona for a three-game series with the second place Diamondbacks (15-10). Jason Schmidt (2-1, 3.41 ERA) will take the mound Monday against former Giant Russ Ortiz (2-1, 3.60 ERA) at 6:40 p.m. PDT.

The game will be televised on Fox Sports Bay Area and broadcasted over the airwaves on KNBR 680 for the local market.

SFDugout.com player of the game: The nod goes to Brad Hennessey, who pitched in college at nearby Youngstown State and made his family proud with a sensational pitching performance. We're sure the Giants don't mind having the problem of carrying a surplus of capable starting pitchers.

Game Notes: Ray Durham missed his second straight game with a sore left groin… Jason Ellison, the 27-year-old rookie outfielder, went 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored. He finished the weekend going 6-for-13, while reaching base eight times. He is now 13-for-22 (.590) against left-handers… The Pirates failed to score four runs for the 13th time in their last 14 games.



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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