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Hernandez remains unbeaten in postseason

10/7/2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Livan Hernandez boasted about his
postseason perfection, then went out and backed it up.

Hernandez won again in October and the San Francisco Giants
battered Tom Glavine for the second time to beat the Atlanta Braves
8-3 Sunday and even their NL Division Series at 2-2.

"I tried not to put pressure on,'' Hernandez said. "I knew it
was a big game. I do it the same as I do every day. I came into the
park and batting practice relaxed, my mind relaxed. I did not want
to make a lot of mistakes ... and I won again today.''

Barry Bonds drove in the first run and the Giants led all the
way, sending both teams back to Atlanta for a decisive Game 5 on
Monday night. Buses to carry the clubs to the airport for
cross-country flights were lined up before it ended.

Kevin Millwood, already waiting at home in Atlanta, will pitch
for the Braves on three days' rest against a fully rested Russ
Ortiz.

Handed a 7-0 lead, Hernandez -- the 1997 NLCS and World Series
MVP -- improved to 6-0 in the postseason. Even after a disappointing
record of 12-16 in the regular season, he was confident before his
first outing of this series.

"I never lose in October,'' he said.

At least one team in the neighborhood is still alive. After the
Oakland Athletics were eliminated by Minnesota in the AL division
series across San Francisco Bay, Hernandez gave fans plenty to
cheer about.

The wild-card Giants won for the first time in six tries when
facing postseason elimination since the 1971 NL championship
series.

Hernandez carried a no-hit bid into the fifth, but Vinny
Castilla hit a high popup that dropped between Hernandez, third
baseman David Bell and shortstop Rich Aurilia for a single.

Bell charged in too far and the ball fell behind him. Keith
Lockhart followed with another base hit.

Hernandez allowed three runs and eight hits in 8 1/3 innings,
striking out six. Giants manager Dusty Baker was booed when he
lifted his starter, but Scott Eyre and Robb Nen finished up.

"We were trying to make him throw strikes,'' Braves manager
Bobby Cox said of Hernandez. "The first inning we had three
strikes (hard-hit balls) at him, but we didn't do much after that.
Livan's hard to hit. He comes with so many angles at you. He's
sneaky quick.''

Aurilia hit a three-run homer in the third -- his third hit of
the game -- as the Giants found the offense that eluded them in the
two previous games of the series, both losses.

Aurilia's shot chased Glavine, who threw 68 pitches in just 2
2/3 innings. He is the losingest pitcher in postseason history at
12-15.

Hernandez pitched a 1-2-3 first and had the raucous Pacific Bell
Park fans on their feet early, waving their white "Rally Rags.''

"It's more difficult to be patient when you're down by seven
runs, six runs,'' said Atlanta's Gary Sheffield, who went 0-for-4
and is batting .071 in the series.

"He wasn't really coming over the middle of the plate today. He
was throwing eephus curveballs and eephus sliders, then he'd show a
fastball, so it made it look a lot faster than it really was.''

Sheffield said he'd never seen Hernandez throw those pitches.

"It kind of shocked me when they came out of his hand,'' he
said.

Bonds hit a sacrifice fly and the Giants gave Hernandez a
two-run cushion in the bottom half, and they were on their way to
an easy victory.

Glavine, making his 32nd postseason start, got in trouble in a
hurry.

Trying to redeem himself after losing Game 1 at Turner Field, he
loaded the bases with none out in the first on a walk to Jeff Kent,
sending the fans into a frenzy. They began chanting "Barry,
Barry!'' as the slugger came to bat.

Kenny Lofton scored on Bonds' fly to right-center, the first of
his three runs scored. Benito Santiago followed with an RBI
groundout to make it 2-0, and the Giants had as many runs as they
scored in the entire nine innings of a 10-2 Game 3 loss the day
before.

The Giants ran out of the dugout with energy and a sense of
urgency this time, as the enthusiastic crowd of 43,070 jumped to
its feet. The regular-season cheer of "Beat LA!'' turned to "Beat
the Braves!''

San Francisco used bloop singles and sacrifice flies to win this
one after managing only five hits Saturday and seven in a 7-3 Game
2 defeat at Turner Field.

Hernandez even did something with his bat, laying down two
sacrifice bunts, and made a nice play on defense, too. He finished
a double play in that ugly fifth inning, getting a congratulatory
point of the finger from Aurilia after the out.

"Livan was very focused today,'' Baker said. "You could tell
before the game he was ready. He knew we needed him, and this
enhances his reputation as a big-game pitcher. Livan was just on
his game. You could tell he wanted it.''

The Braves chased Hernandez in the second. After retiring the
first five batters, the right-hander gave up back-to-back, two-out
walks to Javy Lopez and Castilla before plunking Lockhart in the
leg with a pitch to load the bases.

Hernandez struck out Glavine looking on three pitches to escape
the jam.

Glavine intentionally walked Bonds in the second to load the
bases with two outs. Glavine then got behind 3-0 to Santiago and
walked him to score a run for a 4-0 lead. The Braves got out of it
on a fly ball by Reggie Sanders.

Glavine's start might have been his last in a Braves uniform.
His contract is up at the end of the season, and Atlanta will have
to win Monday to reach the NL championship series for the 10th time
in the last 12 seasons.

While the bottom of the Giants' order did in Glavine in the
series opener, it was the top half Sunday. In Game 1, Glavine
allowed 10 hits in five innings and left with his team behind 6-2.

Hernandez's regular-season record marked the fifth straight
season in which he's lost at least 11 games. He pitched 216 innings
in 2002 and had three shutouts, but his ERA was over 4.00 in each
of the last five months.

The Giants avoided sending Bonds and Baker home empty handed
again. Bonds is 0-for-5 in playoff series and Baker is 0-for-2 as a
manager.

Baker, general manager Brian Sabean and Kent all are in the
final years of their contracts, so this team could potentially look
a lot different next year.

Game notes
The crowd broke the Pac Bell record of 43,043 set Saturday.
... Bonds went 0-for-3 to drop his career postseason average to
.198.