The Jason Schmidt – Russ Ortiz pitching duel never materialized. Both starting pitchers had to deal with baserunners and bouts of wildness all game, at least partially due to a sometimes questionable, inconsistent strike zone.
Ortiz's wildness eventually cost the Diamondbacks first. In a 1-1 tie, Ortiz walked the bases loaded with nobody out in the top of the third inning. Ray Durham blooped a base hit into left field to plate the go-ahead run, and after Marquis Grissom struck out, Mike Matheney deposited a 1-2 slider from Ortiz into the left field seats for a grand slam and a 6-1 lead. The five Giants runs in the inning were scored with only two hits.
After a long leadoff single by J.T. Snow in the fourth, Ortiz was pulled for walking Michael Tucker on four pitches (his last pitch being his 36th ball) with one out. Durham followed with a sharp single off of Diamondbacks reliever Lance Cormier that scored Snow for a seemingly comfortable 7-2 lead and a very quiet Arizona crowd.
The run support provided in the top of the third seemed to give Schmidt somewhat better control, particularly with his slider. He did, however, surrender Troy Glaus' eighth home run of the season in the bottom of the third and an additional run off of two hits in the sixth, but kept the Giants in the game despite again not having his best stuff.
But Schmidt and the Giants ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh inning. After allowing a run, two hits, and a walk to Glaus to put runners on first and second with two out, Schmidt was pulled in favor of Scott Eyre. Eyre proceeded to strike out right fielder Shawn Greene, but the ball got away from Matheney, and the D-Backs were awarded a crucial extra out that spelled doom for the Giants' lead. Pinch-hitter Tony Clark then followed cleared the bases with a three-run double off of reliever Jeff Fassero that tied the game.
The tie was short-lived. Leading off the eighth, Snow's fourth hit of the night and first home run of the season reclaimed the lead for the Giants, 8-7.
But the Giants bullpen in turn could not hold the lead. Matt Herges and Jason Christiansen got the Giants into the ninth with the one-run lead, but Jim Brower gave up a leadoff home run to Arizona left fielder Luis Gonzales to tie the game.
Not to be outdone, Arizona's bullpen again returned the favor. With two outs in the top of the tenth, Edgardo Alfonzo coaxed a walk from reliever Brian Bruney, and Moises Alou followed with a deep double to center field that scored Alfonzo.
One of two relievers left in the Giants bullpen, Tyler Walker escaped a bases-loaded jam in the tenth inning for his first career save, striking out Glaus and getting Green to fly out to end it. Sighs, relief, and going to sleep happy at last!
SF Dugout Player of the Game: Snow. The home run leading off the eighth temporarily killed the Diamondbacks' momentum. The four hits and sweet defense at first didn't hurt, either.
Game Notes: Unusually shaky game for the Giants. Schmidt didn't look as bad as Ortiz, but still wasn't sharp, and sure-handed fielders Alfonzo and Matheney botched plays they normally handle in their sleep. The bullpen blew a few leads, but given the turmoil following the injury to Armando Benitez, not too surprising… Arizona has a good problem in their bullpen. Current closer Brandon Lyon leads the National League in saves, and last year's sometimes closer Jose Valverde looked impressive in his season debut. If the D-Backs stay in the race, their late-inning guys may play a huge role in shaping the NL West… An ugly win is a win, especially if it means six straight victories. The Giants are now two back of the Dodgers in the division.
Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at firstname.lastname@example.org to commiserate, cheer, and complain.
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