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Schilling matches his career-best win total

9/6/2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- When Curt Schilling faced down Barry Bonds,
he didn't worry about the magnitude of a confrontation between the
leading hitter and the winningest pitcher in the majors.

Schilling looked at it as the type of challenge that keeps him
working hard to master the game -- particularly when Bonds' 434-foot
homer showed him how much he still can improve before the
postseason.

Schilling yielded Bonds' 608th career home run, but he pitched
seven innings of five-hit ball for his 22nd victory as the Arizona
Diamondbacks beat the San Francisco Giants 8-5 Thursday night.

Though he has the best record in baseball, Schilling (22-5)
feels he's struggled in the last several weeks. With resilience and
a big early lead, however, he succeeded in his third attempt to
match his career-best win total of last season.

"This was as big of a start as I've had all season,'' Schilling
said. "It's hard to give yourself confidence when you don't feel
like you're doing things well ... (but) this entire season, I've
had to go after (Bonds) with fastballs, because I feel like that's
the way I can get him out.''

Two innings after Bonds' two-run shot, he came to the plate
again. Instead of pitching around Bonds, as manager Bob Brenly
gently suggested to his veteran ace, Schilling went right after
Bonds again -- eventually walking him, but not backing down from the
challenge.

"That wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but when you've got a
great competitor on the mound, he wants to go after him,'' Brenly
said. "That's one of those ballgames where the score doesn't
indicate what a tight game it was.''

Schilling also allowed a homer by Tsuyoshi Shinjo, but he struck
out seven to boost his season total to 282, second in the majors
behind teammate Randy Johnson.

Tony Womack added a three-run triple in the eighth for the
Diamondbacks, who boosted their NL West lead to 5½ games over idle
Los Angeles and eight games over San Francisco.

The Giants, who lost for the third time in four games, beat
Schilling 5-0 in Phoenix last week, but they never recovered from
Arizona's four-run first inning in the first meeting of a key
four-game series at Pacific Bell Park.

"The more anxious you are, the more mistakes you're going to
make,'' Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "We had a couple of
opportunities, but you can't give Schilling a four-run lead like
that.''

The Diamondbacks' first eight hitters either reached base or
drove in a run against Jason Schmidt (10-7), whose three-game
winning streak was snapped. Junior Spivey and Damian Miller both
had run-scoring doubles as Arizona spotted Schilling a four-run
lead before he had thrown a pitch.

Bonds hit his 41st homer of the season into deep right-center in
the fourth. Shinjo added a solo shot in the fifth, but Schilling
otherwise kept the Giants in check, beating them for the third time
this season.

Schilling got his 20th victory of last season -- his first career
20-win campaign -- at Pacific Bell Park, and he was sharp again at
one of the NL's most pitcher-friendly venues.

Schmidt didn't allow a runner past first base after the first
inning, striking out six in six innings.

"I try not to put any more emphasis on these games, but I've
just been in a funk lately,'' Schmidt said. "I figure ways to get
guys out, but I don't feel right.''

The Diamondbacks, who had lost six of their previous eight,
added four unearned runs in the eighth after Jeff Kent misplayed
Quinton McCracken's low liner. One walk later, Womack cleared the
bases when J.T. Snow barely missed a diving catch on Womack's bloop
to short right field.

"That was the shortest triple I've ever seen,'' Womack said.
"No matter what lead you've got, you've got to keep pushing.''

Benito Santiago left the game shortly after Schilling hit him on
the hand with a pitch in the sixth inning. Afterward, the Giants
said only that Santiago had a blister on one of his fingers.

Arizona outfielder Steve Finley singled in the first inning, but
left the game in the third with tightness in his left hamstring.
McCracken replaced him.

Felix Jose, who began his big-league career with Oakland in
1988, struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. It was the first
appearance in the majors since 2000 for Jose, who was signed by the
Diamondbacks earlier this week out of the Mexican League.

Game notes
Shinjo hit his first homer since July 4 -- a drought of 88
at-bats. ... At 38, Bonds (.367) leads Larry Walker (.346) in his
attempt to become the oldest first-time batting title winner. Al
Oliver was 35 years, 11 months old when he won his first batting
title with Montreal in 1982. ... Attendance was 37,945 -- well short
of a sellout.