Rewind: Giants vs. Braves, Game #1

Life has not been too kind to the Giants' away from the shores of McCovey Cove this season. Fresh off a 7-3 homestand which enabled them to climb back into playoff contention, San Francisco hit the road for a critical 10 game road trip and looked nothing like the team that had played so well over the past two weeks. Shoddy defense and poor pitching led to the latest road loss.

Jason Schmidt started his career with the Atlanta Braves, but as he found out Tuesday night, going home isn't always sweet.

Atlanta ripped four homers, and pounded out 13 hits, thrashing San Francisco 13-8 to ruin Schmidt's homecoming.

During the recent hot streak, the starting pitchers have set the tone putting up early zeros to take some pressure off of the Giants' offense, but on this night it was the bats that got off to a thundering start in the first inning.

Shea Hillenbrand and Barry Bonds, both of whom have dealt with a fair amount of criticism for the team's struggles this season, continued their recent hot streak at the plate by clubbing back-to-back solo homers off of Braves starter Tim Hudson to give San Francisco a 2-0 lead.

Their ace was on the mound with an early lead, and things were looking promising early for the Giants. Schmidt breezed through the first, and despite loading the bases in the second, he was able to escape unscathed. The right-hander wasn't so lucky in the third.

With the bases loaded and two out, Jeff Francoeur laced a two-run single, tying the score at 2-2. This was the result of an error committed by Pedro Feliz, because had Feliz completed the play, the inning would have been over and the runners would have never reached base.

The game wasn't tied for long. Adam LaRoche stepped to the plate next and ripped a RBI single to drive in Brian McCann. On the play, Moises Alou misplayed the ball and it rolled all way to the ball allowing Francoeur to come home and the Braves jumped in front 4-2, all four runs being unearned due to the two errors.

Atlanta came out swinging again in the fourth. Following a leadoff single by Hudson and a double by Edgar Renteria, Chipper Jones blasted a three-run homer to center, which was the biggest blow of the night. Before Schmidt could catch his breath, Andruw Jones cracked a solo homer deep into the left field seats to increase the Braves' advantage to 8-2.

That marked the end of a dreadful night for Schmidt (10-8). He was battered for eight runs, (four earned) on seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings.

Jamey Wright came in and was able to stop the bleeding by retiring the only two batters he faced in the fourth. The reprieve was short lived however, as Adam LaRoche led off the fifth launching a solo homer deep to center, adding onto Atlanta's lead.

Bonds provided San Francisco with a ray of hope for a possible comeback in the sixth by belting a two-run homer, his second of the night, closing the gap to 9-4.

In the seventh, San Francisco let a golden opportunity to do some more damage against Macay McBride slip away. Eliezer smoked a one-out double, and then Randy Winn was hit by a pitch. After Steve Finley struck out swinging, Tomas De La Rosa walked to load the bases. Bobby Cox had seen enough of McBride and summoned Chad Paronto from the bullpen to face Hillenbrand, who was 3-3 before this at-bat. Paronto delivered by striking out Hillenbrand to squelch the threat.

The Braves kept pouring it on against reliever Jack Taschner in the bottom half of the inning. Consecutive singles by Francoeur, LaRoche, and Ryan Langerhans plated another run. LaRoche would later score on a wild pitch, increasing Atlanta's lead to 11-4.

The Giants' squandered yet another opportunity to do some serious damage in the eighth. Todd Linden and Ray Durham each drew walks and Moises Alou singled to load the bases with nobody out. However, any hope for a comeback quickly faded. Linden scored on fielder's choice by Pedro Feliz, but then Alfonzo grounded into an inning ending double play to close the door on a potential rally.

Andruw Jones put the final nail in the Giants' coffin in the bottom of the inning by crushing a two-run homer into the seats in left off of Taschner to put the Braves on top 13-5.

San Francisco did not go down without a fight in the ninth against Tyler Yates. After Mark Sweeney led off with a base hit and Finley drew a walk, Hillenbrand smashed a two-run double down the third base line. Hillenbrand would come around to score on a RBI single by Durham. Atlanta closer Bob Wickman came in and retired Todd Greene on a pop out to end the game.

Somehow, the Giants' must find a way to forget about this debacle and try to get back in the win column today because they can ill-afford too many more slip ups like this one if they have any hopes of playing in October.

Brad Hennessey (5-3, 3.39 ERA) will toe the rubber against Atlanta rookie lefty Chuck James (6-3, 4.15) in a crucial game for the Giants' tonight @ 4:35 pm.

Notes: Bonds hit two homers in a game for the first time since 2004... San Francisco committed four errors on Tuesday, easily their worst defensive performance of the season... Moises Alou returned to the lineup after missing 9 games with a hamstring injury... Randy Winn did not start because of a sore knee.

SFDugout's Player of the Game: Shea Hillenbrand had had four hits, including a homer and three RBI's. Barry Bonds remained hot as well, hitting two long balls and driving in three runs in the loss.



I am a life long Giants fan, who bleeds orange and black. I'm not afraid speak my mind and express my opinion. Whether you agree or disagree with what I have to say, feel free to write me and let me know what you think at erikegan@yahoo.com

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