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Game 4: One Bell of a win

Special to

Oct. 23
SAN FRANCISCO -- Never underestimate the son of an ex-major leaguer. That was never more true than in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday night in what turned out to be the best game of the World Series so far.

With J.T. Snow on second base and no outs, one son -- Angels first baseman Scott Spiezio -- made a great play, diving to catch Reggie Sanders' fouled bunt attempt. And then another, David Bell, lined the first fastball he saw from Francisco Rodriguez into center field for the Giants' go-ahead run.

Bell somewhat atoned for his previous at-bat, when he got caught by surprise. He drove a hit down the left-field line near the Giants' bullpen and tried to stretch it into a double. But Garret Anderson, who was cheating toward the line, cut the ball off and made the throw to get Bell at second base.

I don't fault Bell; Anderson made a great play in a game that had more sensitive drama than the first two one-run games. And on a night when baseball revealed its top 10 all-time "Memorable Moments," it featured this Series' greatest moment, one the crowd had been anticipating -- Rodriguez pitching to Barry Bonds. With the game tied in the seventh inning, Rodriguez threw five straight sliders and got Bonds to ground out to first.

It was a huge boost for the Giants to eventually prove that Rodriguez is not unbeatable. But Kirk Rueter set it all up. Although he had trouble early in the game and escaped it a few times with a pair of double plays, Rueter went six innings and got the Giants to Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell and Robb Nen.

It was a nice combination with Rodriguez throwing 97, Worrell throwing great sliders and changeups, and Nen throwing gas with his fastball and his slider that looks like a split. That is how the Giants win. In the second half of the season, the Giants had the National League's best bullpen ERA because the starters were getting to those three.

No one should doubt Rueter's athletic ability after Game 4. In the second inning he almost beat out a grounder that Benji Gil kind of nonchalanted. Leading off the fifth inning, he legged out a ball in front of the plate that set up the Giants' three-run rally. And then he executed the toughest play for a pitcher to make, getting to first base to complete a 3-6-1 double play in the sixth inning.

Another Giant who had a monster night was Rich Aurilia. In the first inning he fouled off an 0-2 pitch and then singled to right field behind Kenny Lofton. His second time up, Aurilia was looking for a ball to drive on a 2-0 count and hit the double to left-center field that bounced off Darin Erstad's glove. And then, with Rueter on second and Lofton on first in the three-run fifth, he was behind 1-2, worked the count to 2-2 and then carved the ball to right field for the Giants' first run.

All three Aurilia at-bats set up the three Bonds intentional walks. After the first two, Mike Scioscia's strategy worked perfectly because Benito Santiago bounced into double plays, but the third time Santiago drove in the tying run with a base hit to center field. Just another subplot of a phenomenal game.

From the Giants' standpoint, they not only even the series at 2-2, but they have Jason Schmidt, their best pitcher at Pac Bell Park, throwing Game 5, and they will return to Anaheim to face Kevin Appier in Game 6 and -- if the Series goes seven -- Ramon Ortiz, who has a hurt wrist.

Even before Game 4, some Giants players told me they believed they could go to Anaheim and win the Series if they were down 3-2. I'm not sure they would have come back from a 3-1 deficit, but now they have a great shot.

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