Lucky for Schmidt and the Giants, the orange and black had no trouble turning up the heat in Phoenix.
Schmidt pitched into the seventh inning and benefited from a season-high support of six home runs including a solo shot by Schmidt himself as the Giants downed the Diamondbacks 8-4 in an important series in the tightly bunched NL West.
The Giants hit their six home runs in four consecutive innings, beginning in the top of the fifth. Pedro Feliz hit the first of two home runs of the evening leading off the fifth inning to get the Giants within a run at 3-2, a solo shot off of Diamondbacks starter Enrique Gonzales.
The following inning turned into home run derby for the Giants. Omar Vizquel led off the inning with an infield single off of Diamondbacks reliever Jeff Bajenaru, who was making his National League debut. Bajenaru would quickly proceed to make the inning a painfully memorable one, as Moises Alou then deposited one of his pitches deep to left center field for a two-run shot that put the Giants ahead 4-3. After Barry Bonds flied out, Ray Durham homered to right for another run, and after a groundout by Shea Hillenbrand, Feliz hit his second home run of the game to make it 6-3 Giants.
Schmidt settled down and left in the seventh inning surrendering only the three runs, but not before depositing a ball deep into the left field seats for a homer of his own to make it 7-3 on a first-pitch fastball by Arizona reliever Greg Aquino. Hillenbrand then capped the Giants scoring by leading off the eighth with his second home run as a Giant and fourteenth of the season.
Initially, the Giants looked as if they would fail to capitalize on early scoring chances, as they scored their first run on an RBI groundout by Bonds, and killed rallies with double plays in the third and fourth innings. The Diamondbacks scored their two first-inning runs on some clutch hits by Luis Gonzales (a deep double that scored Eric Byrnes, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the game), and Chad Tracy, who also singled to drive in the Diamondbacks’ third run.
But Schmidt and the Giants defense held firm, and new lefty specialist Mike Stanton got a few key late outs, with much-maligned closer Armando Benitez picking Stanton up when he got in trouble in the ninth inning.
All in all, a good team effort, and long balls always help a struggling offense.
SFDugout’s Player of the Game: In a game of big flies, Vizquel gets the nod because of his hot hitting that set the table at the top of the order, and his stellar defense that helped snuff out Arizona rallies in the critical sixth and seventh innings. Big kudos also for Schmidt, pitching and hitting his way to a much-needed victory as the Giants look to get back in the NL West hunt.
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 email@example.com to commiserate, cheer, and complain.
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