On the mound for the Giants was team ace, Jason Schmidt. In the months of May and June, Schmidt rolled over the competition with a 5-1 record and an ERA of 2.27. In that period of time he also has three shutouts, three complete games and an amazing 62 strikeouts. Schmidt started off the game in typical Schmidt fashion by allowing just a double to Eric Chavez.
The Giants took to the plate against second-year starter, Joe Blanton.
Blanton proved to be a tough opponent early on for the Giants as they did not get a hit until a single by Steve Finley in the second inning. Taking matters in to his own hands, Schmidt went back to the mound in the third inning and racked up another strikeout giving four thus far.
After allowing a walk to Nick Swisher, Schmidt forced slugger Eric Chavez into a groundout, and allowed Swisher to advance to second. With Swisher now on second, first base was open. Schmidt played his cards right and pitched away from Bobby Crosby and got a fly-out to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the third, the Giants started to heat things up. After giving up a lead-off hit to Jason Schmidt, Blanton then walked Randy Winn. With first and second now occupied, it was Omar Vizquel coming to the plate. Vizquel then singled into center and loaded the bases for Mark Sweeney.
The tension was definitely at a high point for Blanton.
After throwing a wild pitch to Sweeney, Blanton caught a break and got Sweeney to strike out for the second out of the inning. Blanton was not out of the water yet, he still had one more out to go and it was Barry Bonds. Attempting to throw Bonds outside the zone only forced a bases loaded walk and a run scored. It was now 1-0 in favor of the Giants.
The pain for Blanton continued in the fourth. After a Ray Durham triple, it was a single off the bat of Eliezer Alfonzo to make it a 2-0 Giants' lead. Schmidt continued to dominate his counterpart, thus far, in five innings work, giving up only two hits and with four strike outs.
However, it would get a little difficult for the Giants' right hander.
In the sixth, Schmidt gave up a lead-off walk to Nick Swisher. After Swisher, it was the always dangerous Eric Chavez. Following the same pattern as he did with Swisher, Schmidt walked Chavez to put runners on first and second. It was Schmidt versus Crosby. After working the count in his favor, Crosby hit a fly ball to center deep enough to advance Chavez to third with a sacrifice fly. It was now one out with Jay Payton at the plate. Payton then took a Schmidt delivery and bounced it off the left-center field wall. Payton's blast scored Chavez easily from first and it was now a 2-2 game.
Moving on, it was now the eighth inning and the end of the night for Schmidt. Taking his place on the mound was left hander Steve Kline. Kline's night, however ended after just two outs. It was now on to the hard-throwing righty Jeremy Accardo. Accardo quickly retired Jay Payton for the final out of the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Giants struck back. After walking Barry Bonds, Athletics' reliever Chad Gaudin gave up a single to Pedro Feliz to score Barry Bonds from second base. The 41-year-old Bonds made a rare steal at second base to put himself into scoring position while Feliz was batting. It was now 3-2, San Francisco. Athletics' Manager Ken Macha had seen enough. After a brief stint by Scott Sauerbeck, Macha made the call to Kiko Calero. Calero allowed one hit to the Steve Finley before forcing Eliezer Alfonzo to pop out to end the inning. Finley also stole second base, and he and Bonds are the two oldest players on the team.
It was now or never for Oakland as they now faced Armando Benitez. Benitez painted the outside corner on Antonio Perez for the first out. The second batter Benitez faced was Jason Kendall. Trying to go the same route he went with Perez, Benitez went outside to Kendall. However, Kendall went with the pitch and dropped it into shallow right field. With one out, and the crowd standing, it was now Bobby Kielty against Benitez. After an extensive eight pitch at-bat, Kielty continued in the path of his team mates and went to the opposite field. With the hit, Kendall advanced to third. It was one out with runners on the corners for Mark Kotsay. Kotsay, prior to this at-bat was 1-4. And that was good enough for him, as blasted a shot to center, deep enough to score Kendall on a sacrifice fly.
3-3, in the top of the ninth, with two outs, the Giants felt their lead slipping away. Nick Swisher stepped in for his turn at Benitez. With the count 2-1, Swisher knew he was going to get something good to hit, and he did. Swisher took a pitch and lined it deep into triples alley and scored Kielty easily from first. Going into the bottom half of the ninth, it was now 4-3.
It was now the Giants' stab at turning the tables, standing in their way was Athletics' closer Huston Street. Street had completed his last nine save opportunities and this one was no different from his previous outings. Unfortunately, he shut down the Giants to seal the deal for Oakland.
SFDugout's Player of the Game: Jason Schmidt looked great on the mound again, even though he didn't have a complete game this time like he's usually expected to go. He bounced back in good fashion from his rocky start in Seattle. He went over 120 pitches and got himself out of a jam to end his night. It's too bad the bullpen couldn't pick him up. Bonds and Feliz also deserve honorable mentions
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