After blowing a 3-1 lead, San Francisco came roaring back with four runs in the eighth, to defeat the Diamondbacks 7-6 Tuesday night.
If San Francisco is to have any chance of getting into the playoffs, they must play consistent fundamental baseball from here on out, which is something this group has been unable to do so far this season.
The bottom half of the first inning was a perfect example of how successful the Giants' can be if they can do the little things that are necessary to win ballgames. The much-maligned Randy Winn got things started with a leadoff walk against Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb. Omar Vizquel followed with a base hit to right. Arizona right fielder Carlos Quentin came up firing and promptly air mailed a throw over third baseman Chad Tracy's head allowing Winn to score. Vizquel moved to third on the play and would come around to score on Mark Sweeney's grounder to second as the Giants' took an early 2-0 lead.
"Little Ball" was again the key to the Giants' fifth inning rally. Following a two-out walk by Sweeney, Barry Bonds raked a base hit into the right field corner, putting runners at first and third for the hot-hitting Ray Durham. Durham, who has come through in the clutch repeatedly for San Francisco over the past few months, delivered once again, hitting a RBI single, to bring home Sweeney and put the Giants' on top 3-0.
While the offense was coming up with key hits to drive in runs, Giants' starter Matt Cain was turning in another masterpiece on the mound by blanking the Diamondbacks through the first five innings. He would run into trouble in the sixth however, when catcher Johnny Estrada drilled a RBI double to deep right center, knocking in Chad Tracy and pulling Arizona within 3-1.
That would be the only damage that the Diamondbacks would do to Cain on this night. The rookie right-hander was in control all night long, allowing one run in seven innings, while striking out seven and walking only one.
Mike Stanton, who has performed very well for the Giants since coming over in the trade, relieved Cain in the eighth, but proceeded to give up the lead. With Luis Gonzalez on first following a single, Estrada put a hurting on the Giants' once again, launching a two-run homer to left center, tying the score at 3-3.
San Francisco would answer right back in the bottom half of the inning. Steve Finley got the rally going with a leadoff double. He wouldn't be on second for long because Eliezer Alfonzo lined a run-scoring double down the third base line to put the Giants in front 4-3. The offense was just getting revved up as Todd Linden came up next and delivered an RBI single of his own to bring home Alfonzo. After Winn walked, Vizquel scorched a double to deep center to knock in two more runs, which helped increase the lead to 7-3.
As it turned out, the Giants would need all those runs because a four run lead wasn't enough when Armando Benitez took the hill in the ninth to make things interesting once again. Following an RBI single off the bat of Gonzalez mixed in with some baserunners, Benitez was taken out of the game with two outs and the tying run in the batter's box. He was replaced by Steve Kline, who gave up a long double off the brick wall in right to plate two more runs, which brought Arizona within one. All the runs were charged to Benitez. However, Kline would hold his ground and closed the door, getting the man of the night, Estrada, to ground out to seal the victory.
Jason Schmidt (10-7, 3.03 ERA) will take an 11 game winning streak to the mound against Arizona as he tries to secure the sweep for San Francisco. Enrique Gonzalez (3-5, 5.41) will toe the rubber for the Diamondbacks at 12:35 pm.
SFDugout's Player of the Game: Matt Cain was lights out again, firing seven strong innings. Eliezer Alfonzo continues to come through in the clutch, delivering a RBI double in the eighth to put San Francisco ahead for good.
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