|August 26, 2003||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
LP D. Oliver (10-9) 6.0IP 6H 3R 3ER 2BB 4K 0HR 5.10 ERA
Jason Schmidt was outstanding, smothering the Rockies' offense at hitter-friendly Coors Field. He gave up only two hits through the first seven innings and didn't allow a runner past second base. Charles Johnson's leadoff double in the third went for naught, as Schmidt retired the next three batters in order to strand Johnson at second. The Rockies put only one more baserunner on before Jay Payton's two-out double in the seventh. With Payton in scoring position, Charles Johnson came up to bat with a chance to drive in a run, but he went down swinging on a 3-2 changeup to end the inning and the threat.
The eighth inning brought some trouble for the Schmidt and the Giants, as Juan Uribe led off with a sharp single to left center field. Schmidt got the next two hitters, but Greg Norton, 3-7 lifetime against Schmidt entering the at-bat, singled on Schmidt's 111th pitch of the night to put runners at first and second. With two down and two on, Colorado slugger Todd Helton, hitting up over .350 with 27 home runs on the year, came up to bat representing the tying run. San Francisco manager Felipe Alou decided to play the averages, bringing southpaw Jason Christiansen in from the bullpen to face Helton.
The situation seemed oddly familiar. For the second consecutive start, Schmidt pitched beautifully deep into the game through unfavorable circumstances and left with a 3-0 lead. For the second consecutive start, things got sticky. On a 1-2 count, Helton skied a ball into fairly shallow right field, where Marquis Grissom and Jose Cruz converged. Cruz, who has played a stellar right field all year for the Giants, called off Grissom and held out his glove to make the catch. The ball popped in and out of his glove and dropped on the grass, allowing Uribe to score and putting runners on second and third with two down for RBI machine Preston Wilson. Righty Joe Nathan was summoned from the bullpen to face Wilson, who was in position to tie the game with a base hit to the outfield. With the Colorado fans cheering on their heavy-hitting center fielder, Nathan got Wilson to fly out to left field to leave both runners on base.
Facing Colorado starter Darren Oliver for the third time this year, the Giant offense didn't provide much of a cushion for its pitching staff, but single runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings proved to be enough for Schmidt and the bullpen.
After being held hitless through the first three innings, Jeffrey Hammonds coaxed a one-out walk from Oliver in the fourth. Benito Santiago singled, moving Hammonds to second base. Rich Aurilia followed with a flyout to center, but Andres Galarraga picked up a two-out RBI with a clutch single to left field, scoring Hammonds. The inning ended on the play, as Santiago was hung up trying to go first to third.
Eighth place hitter Pedro Feliz, giving regular third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo a day off, led off the fifth with a line drive into the left field corner and stood on second to set up a sacrifice situation for Schmidt. After Schmidt lay down a perfect bunt to move Feliz over to third, Cruz struck out. However, former Rockie Neifi Perez picked up his teammate with a two-out line shot back up the middle, plating Feliz for the second run of the game.
The Giants' third and final run scored in the sixth on a double play ball off the bat of Aurilia. Hammonds and Santiago hit back-to-back singles off of Oliver to open the inning, bringing Aurilia to the plate with runners at the corners and nobody out. Aurilia grounded a 2-2 pitch right to the shortstop Uribe, who surrendered a run to turn a tailor-made 6-4-3.
Tim Worrell pitched the ninth for the Giants, giving up a single to Payton but inducing a double play grounder off the bat of Johnson to record his 28th save of the season and preserve the win for the Giants.
SFDugout's Players of the Game: While Neifi Perez and Jeffrey Hammonds contributed clutch offense and solid defense, the pitching staff was the key to the game. Schmidt was outstanding in 7 2/3 before giving way to the bullpen. Jason Christiansen, though the out he induced was not recorded because of Cruz's error in the eighth, did his job in retiring one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. Joe Nathan pitched out of a huge jam with the tying runs in scoring position and the go-ahead run at the plate, and Tim Worrell finished it off with a quick 8-pitch ninth.
Stephanie Moy is a diehard Giants fan, born and raised in San Francisco. She loves hearing feedback - good, bad, or otherwise - so if you're so obliged, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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