Rewind: Giants vs. Dodgers, Game #4

The Giants drudged across the halfway point Sunday, painfully losing steam and looking in obvious need of a pit stop. They got the short end of a great pitching duel after winning two already in Los Angeles. Their arch rivals, however, was not about to be humiliated at their own place.

If the marathon race that is the 162-game season tests a team's endurance, the San Francisco Giants will most likely welcome this week's All-Star break as a chance to refuel, recharge and regroup.

"It's been a struggle, a struggle to stay alive," San Francisco manager Felipe Alou told a group of reporters after the game. "Last year, we never made it to .500. This year, we've tried hard but we can't get away from .500. Maybe the four days off will give us a lift."

Perhaps so, but Sunday's game marked just the 24th time this season sluggers Barry Bonds and Moises Alou started in the same game.

Even their presence could not lift starter Jason Schmidt and the Giants, as they lost 3-1 against the arch rival Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Latrine, dropping San Francisco to 45-44, tied for third in the NL West.

"It could be worse," Giants outfielder Randy Winn said. "We could be more games out of first place, but we're not in first, and that's where we want to be."

San Francisco did not want to be in Dodger Stadium facing starter Aaron Sele, who improved to 6-0 with a 1.65 ERA in seven starts at Chavez Latrine this season.

Sele (6-2) pitched six deceptively strong innings, striking out seven Giants, and allowed just the one run. San Francisco did have an opportunity to do some damage in the fifth, but Moises Alou popped out to shallow left with the bases loaded to end their threat.

The recently-turned 40-year-old had a chance to redeem himself in the seventh with an identical situation, but grounded out to end another scoring opportunity. Alou then slammed his helmet in frustration.

"You have to be upset, the second time with the bases loaded, and you don't produce," said Alou, who felt his health was not an issue after playing in his fourth game off the DL.

Despite failing to take three of four from the dreaded Dodgers, the Giants still remain in striking distance (3 1/2 games out) and will look to reload immediately after the four-game hiatus.

"Now, we've got to get ready for the second half," the San Francisco right fielder said. "I think we as a team know what we should do and the front office knows what we need. But the key for us is to remain healthy."

The key, as usual, will be the strength of their pitching and that begins and ends with their staff ace and lone representative at this year's All-Star game -- Jason Schmidt.

The stud right-hander pondered his upcoming role in the mid-summer classic.

"Will it make me that much stronger for the second half if I don't pitch?" he asked. "Maybe, maybe not. It's tough to go down there and not pitch either. I think I owe it to this team to come back as strong as possible. It's not all about personal gain.

"I'm like anybody else, I'd love to be winning," Schmidt said failing to pick up a victory for his sixth straight outing. "I hate losing. But sometimes, that's just the turn of events. It has happened before; I've been through it.

"The second half, we have a chance to mix it up and get out there and start from scratch. That's how I look at it."

The Giants will mix it up Friday with the Philadelphia Phillies at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.

San Francisco will start Matt Morris (7-7, 4.29 ERA) against the Phils' Jon Lieber (3-6, 5.47).

Games Notes: Shortstop Omar Vizquel left the game in the fifth as a precaution for his tight left hamstring. Trainer Stan Conte said Vizquel "should be fine in four days. It didn't look that severe."... Former Giants second baseman Jeff Kent and center fielder Kenny Lofton sat out Sunday's game, nursing minor injuries... Ray Durham pulled a hat trick after being the hero in Saturday's contest... The Giants are 9-9 in Schmidt's starts, despite the ace right-hander sporting a sparkling 2.78 ERA... Barry Bonds made a superb sliding catch in the fourth inning to rob former Giant Ramon Martinez of a base-hit.

SFDugout's Player of the Game: Jason Schmidt continues to provide quality starts for San Francisco, but failed to increase his and the Giants win total. If San Francisco has any designs on winning the NL West, Schmidt must continue pitching like an All-Star. He's all they have at this point.



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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