The bottom of the first highlighted many frustrations that have become commonplace for Giants fans in 2005. Randy Winn hit a solid single to left, and Omar Vizquel belted a double off the right field wall, putting runners on second and third with no one out. But with one out, the Braves wisely walked Barry Bonds, loading the bases for Moises Alou, who promptly hit into a 6-4-3 double play, stranding three runners in the process.
Noah Lowry wasn't having any trouble dealing with the Braves batters. He had struck out Andruw Jones with a runner on second in the first and got two quick outs in the second. But after throwing a high ball to Brian Jordan, he felt pain in his back and one practice pitch confirmed that he had to be pulled out of the game and replaced by Jeff Fassero. Fassero struck out Jordan to end the second. But to begin the top of the third, Fassero quickly wore out his welcome. He gave up consecutive home runs to Brian McCann and opposing pitcher Jorge Sosa. While he was able to get the top of the order out, the damage was done and the Braves had a 2-0 lead.
The Giants were not ready to give up, however, and in the bottom half of the inning they sought to get back in the game. With one out, Winn walked, and Vizquel hit a single, moving Winn to third. Ray Durham plunked a single into center field, scoring both Vizquel and Winn and tying the game at two. With a wild pitch by Sosa, Durham moved to second base, putting a runner on second with one out. Sosa promptly responded like many pitchers would have: walking Bonds intentionally. This put Moises Alou in a similar situation as he had seen in the first inning. But instead of grounding out into an inning-ending double play, Alou singled to center to score Durham and give the Giants the lead. Lance Niekro hit a single to left past a diving Chipper Jones, loading the bases for Pedro Feliz.
If this were 2005, Feliz would have quickly hit a soft ground ball to the shortstop, ending any potential rally. But a good sign that 2006 was a new year with hope and possibilities, Feliz hit a double to deep center, clearing the bases and giving the Giants a 6-2 lead that would hold them for the rest of the game.
The Giants would not have a single hit and only three base runners after their explosive rally in the third, but it was not a concern as the pitching held the Braves to just two more runs. In the sixth, a one-out double from Edgar Renteria and a single off the bat of Chipper Jones would put the Braves within three, and a last-ditch solo shot from Jordan off closer Tim Worrell would bring them within two, but that was as close as they would get as the Giants won their home opener against the Braves.
*Noah Lowry had a back strain and is listed day-to-day. He will be re-evaluated on Friday.*Jeff Fassero was the winning pitcher despite giving up three of the Braves four runs.
Jesse Radin writes for SFDugout.com and has been a Giants follower since 1996. The Blind Observer is Jesse's column covering all things baseball, though mainly about the Giants. Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
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