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Hoffman gets first save in 19 months

4/11/2004

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- With Barry Bonds on deck and the bases loaded,
Trevor Hoffman pumped three changeups past Michael Tucker to earn
his first save in 19 months.

"It's been a long road to get all the way back to this stage,"
Hoffman said after preserving the San Diego Padres' 6-4 win over
the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night. "Hopefully this kick
starts it and then we get on a pretty good roll."

Hoffman struggled in the ninth but got his 353rd career save --
fifth on the all-time list -- and his first since September 2002.
Hoffman, who blew a save Thursday night in the first game at Petco
Park, missed the first five months of the 2003 season after
undergoing double shoulder surgery. He didn't pitch in any save
situations when he returned in September.

The Padres kept Bonds in the yard for the second straight game
and Phil Nevin had four hits to tie his career high.

Hoffman retired the first two batters in the ninth before
allowing a pinch-hit single to Pedro Feliz, a double to Ray Durham
and a walk to J.T. Snow. He then struck out Tucker on three
straight changeups.

"His last three pitches were his best three," manager Bruce
Bochy said. "He was just missing, and he made his pitches when he
had to."

On Thursday night, with the Padres leading 1-0 in the ninth and
a sellout crowd on its feet, Hoffman allowed hits on his first two
pitches and blew the save. The Padres rallied to win 4-3 in the
10th.

"The thing I was most upset about the other night is I felt I
disappointed everybody," Hoffman said. "It was a perfect
situation, and then to go out and feel like you let not only your
teammates down, but really, the city of San Diego in a situation
that couldn't be any bigger, made it a little tougher to come in
tonight. But I was happy to get through it."

Bonds went 1-for-3 with a walk and remained on hold with 659
home runs, one behind his godfather, Willie Mays, for third place
on the career list. Bonds, who singled to center off Brian Lawrence
in the fifth, has 75 career homers against the Padres, his most
against any team, but hasn't connected in the first two games at
Petco Park.

"He's hitting a lot of balls off the end of his bat," manager
Felipe Alou said. "Barry's been there before with breaking
records. I don't think he's pressing."

Nevin went 4-for-5 and scored three runs, including in the
seventh when the heart of the order got to the Giants' bullpen to
break a 4-all tie.

Brian Giles hit a leadoff ground-rule double to center off Jim
Brower (0-1), advanced on Nevin's single and scored the go-ahead
run with a nice hook slide past catcher A.J. Pierzynski on Jay
Payton's grounder to third. Edgardo Alfonzo's throw beat Giles home
but Pierzynski was on the first-base side of the plate and Giles
slid around him.

Left-hander Kevin Walker, released by the Padres during spring
training, came on to face Ryan Klesko and gave up a ground-rule
double to center that scored Nevin.

Scott Linebrink (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh for the win in
relief of Lawrence.

Giants starter Kirk Rueter was hit on the back of his right hand
in the second inning on a comebacker by Nevin that dropped for an
infield single. The left-hander shook it off and stayed in the
game, ending up with his second straight no-decision. He was taken
for X-rays, which were negative.

The Giants scored four runs in the third inning on just two
hits, as Lawrence hit one batter and walked three. Lawrence walked
Bonds to load the bases and Pierzynski followed with an RBI single
that fell just in front of center fielder Jay Payton. Lawrence then
walked Edgardo Alfonzo on four straight pitches to force in another
run. Marquis Grissom capped the inning with a two-run single for a
4-1 lead.

The Padres had five hits and a walk against Rueter in the fourth
to tie it at 4. Nevin started it with a double over the head of
right fielder Tucker and scored on Klesko's sacrifice fly. Sean
Burroughs and rookie Khalil Greene added RBI singles.

Nevin scored the Padres' first run on Ramon Hernandez's RBI
single in the second.

Lawrence, who won at Los Angeles on opening day, allowed four
runs and six hits in six innings, struck out two and walked four.
Rueter gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings, walked two
and struck out none.

Game notes
Nevin has six career four-hit games. His most recent one
had been Aug. 27, 2002, at Houston. ... Padres LHP Sterling
Hitchcock didn't make his scheduled start for Class-A Lake Elsinore
on Saturday night because of a rib-cage strain and he doesn't know
if he'll make his scheduled start for San Diego on Saturday night
against Arizona. Because the No. 5 spot doesn't come up until
Saturday, Hitchcock was optioned to Lake Elsinore's roster when the
25-man roster was set last weekend.