SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Eliezer Alfonzo has had quite a first week
in the big leagues.
First, he hit a two-run homer against the Mets in his debut
Saturday at Shea Stadium. He caught ace Jason Schmidt's
16-strikeout game Tuesday night -- then found himself in the middle
of the action again two days later in his fourth career start.
"He's a good player -- a good hitter and a decent catcher,"
manager Felipe Alou said. "I liked what I saw in spring
Alfonzo, a rookie catcher recently called up from Double-A
Connecticut, blooped a single to left to start the inning.
Pinch-hitter Steve Finley sacrificed him to second, then Randy Winn
reached when second baseman Jose Castillo dropped a catch in
shallow right for an error that moved Alfonzo to third.
"I can run. I want to steal bases, too," Alfonzo said, noting
he didn't have the green light to go. "No chance. He gave me the
Ray Durham's blooper to left with two outs in the eighth tied
the game, just the second hit with runners in scoring position in
the first 21 chances by both teams. Roberto Hernandez blew his
first save in three chances.
Armando Benitez (4-0) pitched the ninth for the win.
When Durham was asked afterward to describe the game, he laughed
"It's a weird game, I will say that," he said.
Sean Casey had an RBI double among his four hits, but the
Pirates missed too many opportunities. Pinch-hitter Craig Wilson
doubled following Paulino's two-out walk in the ninth, but Jose
Bautista flied out to center. Pittsburgh stranded 15 baserunners,
one fewer than its season high, and lost for only the second time
in its last seven games in San Francisco.
"It obviously boils down to this: When you leave as many
baserunners on as we left, you're setting yourself up to get
beat," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said.
The Giants had the tying run on third in the eighth after
Niekro's leadoff double and a wild pitch that moved him up. Then
Durham blooped a single to shallow left.
San Francisco left eight baserunners.
"It kills a team," Durham said. "If we lose the ballgame, you
look back at the missed opportunities we had. If you want to get to
where you want, you can't have that happen."
Alou homered in the fourth for the Giants with a shot to center,
his eighth homer and first drive since April 29 after being
activated from the disabled list before Tuesday's game with
In the sixth, with runners on second and third and no outs, Alou
tossed his ankle shield in the dirt in disgust following a called
third strike. Plate umpire Ted Barrett pointed to the equipment,
signaling a fine.
Duke allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. He struck
out three and walked three.
Giants starter Matt Cain watched his pitch count climb in a
hurry. The rookie right-hander had already thrown 74 pitches
through three innings, and was done after four. He allowed seven
hits and three runs, struck out two and walked four.
Cain needed 37 pitches to get through the first, while Duke
retired the side in order on six pitches in the bottom half.
"The pitcher was struggling but we didn't get that big hit,"
Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson said.
Barry Bonds' sore left side forced the slugger to sit out for
the second straight game, though he was hopeful to be back in the
lineup soon after letting the injury calm down.
"It's a little better, but not much," Bonds said after
removing a wrap of ice from his side. "I don't know yet. I'm still
working on it."
Bonds' side began bothering him during a series against the New
York Mets last weekend at Shea Stadium, then it became worse
Tuesday night and he was examined by two team doctors.
Bonds, who turns 42 on July 24, said he has not dealt with this
kind of injury before. The seven-time NL MVP hit his 715th homer
May 28 against Colorado to pass Babe Ruth and move into sole
possession of second place on the career list behind Aaron, then
homered again Monday night against the Florida Marlins.
Pirates OF Jason Bay reached base in his first three plate
appearances to give him nine straight plate appearances reaching
safely. ... Casey's RBI double in the second gave Pittsburgh an
extra-base hit in 30 straight games. Casey has a career batting
average of .447 (38-for-85) in San Francisco's waterfront ballpark.
... Cain matched his shortest outing of the year at four innings.
"It was just a tough night, off," he said.