SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- At 37, Benito Santiago still feels fit
enough to catch 18 innings, and he still craves being in the
batter's box in a close game.
Thanks to his timely hitting, there were no extra innings
necessary Saturday. Santiago hit a game-winning single and the San
Francisco Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the
ninth inning for the second consecutive game, 4-3.
''I always love situations like that,'' said Santiago, who also
drove in two other runs. ''Since I started playing in this league
I've liked those opportunities.''
San Francisco won for the 10th time in 13 games and moved to two games of the Dodgers in the National League wild-card race after Los Angeles
lost 6-1 to Houston. The Giants are 6½ games behind Arizona in the
Santiago followed with a single to right field and Kent scored
without a play. Santiago threw his arms in the air as he approached
''We have to work hard for all of them,'' Giants manager Dusty
Baker said. ''This year's been a grind.''
The Giants beat the Diamondbacks 1-0 Friday night on Reggie
Sanders' game-ending single.
''Once again it comes down to the last guy,'' Diamondbacks
manager Bob Brenly said. ''We were hoping for a little bit more
today. They're a tough ballclub. They really ride the emotions of
their fans, they almost feed off of them. Once that gets going,
they seem to slow down the game and disrupt the pace. They respond
very well to that.
''They will haunt you, and they did tonight.''
Felix Rodriguez (7-6) pitched the ninth for the victory, getting
help from a spectacular catch by Sanders in right field.
Sanders ran into the wall as he caught a fair ball hit by Tony
Womack against the foul pole to end the ninth. Sanders ran back to
the dugout to a standing ovation.
''If you're fearful of the wall, you're not going to be able to
catch it,'' Sanders said.
The Giants blew a big opportunity in the eighth. David Bell
doubled to the corner deep in left field with one out to move
Sanders to third. Pinch-hitter Bill Mueller then walked to load the
bases for leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton.
San Francisco scored twice in the fifth to erase a 3-1 deficit.
Bonds came up with the bases loaded and one out. After a flyout
and a walk in his first two plate appearances, Bonds hit a high
single that dropped between three Arizona players: left fielder
Luis Gonzalez, shortstop Womack and third baseman Matt Williams.
Williams had a play on the ball, but lost it in the sun and the
others had already backed off because they thought Williams had it.
''Any day game here is tough,'' Williams said. ''I turned around
and I tried to chase it down. After I turned around I looked up
again and I couldn't find it, no matter how hard I looked for it.''
Bonds' hit scored Lofton, then Santiago followed with a
sacrifice fly that brought home Aurilia for the tying run.
Jensen allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Arizona starter Rick Helling, who allowed seven runs in 3 2/3
innings of a 19-1 defeat against Los Angeles in his previous start, gave
up three runs and six hits in five innings against the Giants.
Bonds gave Helling a scare in the fourth, pounding a pitch high
over the right-field bleachers and into McCovey Cove, but it was a
few feet to the right of the foul pole. A fan outside the park
jumped into the water to retrieve the ball, probably thinking it
was a home run. Bonds ended up walking that time.
In his career, Helling has held Bonds to an 3-for-16 effort, with two
home runs and the single Saturday. ... Brenly shook up his lineup
Saturday in part to see Jose in a prominent spot in the order. The
switch-hitting Jose batted in the No. 4 hole, and drove in a run
with a sacrifice fly and singled in just his second start since
joining the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Jose, 37, was acquired by
Triple-A Tucson from the Mexican League champion Mexico City Reds.
Before Friday, he hadn't started a game in the majors since July
20, 2000, with the Yankees. ... Six San Francisco relievers
combined to allow only one hit.