The Giants got on the board first when Shea Hillenbrand hit a sacrifice fly off Braves’ starter Chuck James to make it a 1-0 game in the top of the first inning. In the bottom half of the inning, however, Chipper Jones hit an RBI ground out off Giants’ starter Brad Hennessey to tie the game.
Shea Hillenbrand later hit his second sacrifice fly of the game in the top of the third inning to make it a 2-1 game. Hennessey was rolling until the bottom of the fourth, when he hit two batters with errant pitches, bringing Adam LaRoche to the plate with two on. LaRoche promptly doubled to deep left center, scoring one run to tie the game 2-2. While Barry Bonds had been hit by a pitch earlier in the game, Hennessey’s plunkings did not appear to be in retaliation but rather unintentional. Either way, LaRoche and the Braves made him pay by knocking in the run.
The game remained 2-2 until LaRoche came to the plate yet again with two baserunners on. Even though LaRoche had previously had terrific swings against Hennessey, manager Felipe Alou decided to leave him in the game. It proved to be a huge mistake, as LaRoche again raked Hennessey’s offering down the line for a two-run triple. LaRoche finished the game 4-for-4 with three doubles, a triple and three RBI. Hennessey was then immediately removed from the game for Jack Taschner, seemingly one batter too late. Ryan Langerhans then knocked in LaRoche on a bizarre squeeze play. The bunt was popped into the air, but somehow landed in between both Taschner and a charging Ray Durham to make it a 5-2 game. After back-to-back ground outs, the Giants were finally out of the inning.
Hennessey’s final line showed five runs allowed over 5 1/3 innings. He hasn’t lasted six innings in any of his four starts since joining the starting rotation. While two of those starts have been solid, the Giants have to be thinking about giving Jonathan Sanchez a try as their No. 5 starter at some point.
After Vinnie Chulk and Armando Benitez tossed scoreless frames, the Giants needed their bats to come alive. In the top of the eighth, Barry Bonds led off with a single to get things started. That brought Durham to plate, with the tying run on deck. Durham crushed the ball off an offering by Braves’ reliever Chad Paronto, but Andruw Jones went over the center field wall to rob a home run. It was the play of the night and saved the Braves two runs.
In the ninth inning, Eliezer Alfonzo hit a jack off Braves’ closer Bob Wickman to bring the Giants to within two runs, but that was all the damage that was done, as the Braves went on to win the game 5-3. Since the Giants lost by only the two runs, it makes the Andruw Jones home run robbing catch that much more frustrating. Now, with John Smoltz looming as Thursday’s starter, San Francisco will be lucky to get out of Atlanta without getting swept.
SFDugout’s Player of the Game: Omar Vizquel went 3-for-4 and stole his 24th base of the year. It’s been quite a year for Vizquel, who has his average up to .311 and has also already bested his numbers from last year in runs scored, homers and RBI.
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