Playoff Series: Game 5 of 5

San Francisco leads 3-2 (as of 10/7)

Game 1: Wednesday, October 2
San Francisco 8Final
Atlanta 5
Game 2: Thursday, October 3
San Francisco 3Final
Atlanta 7
Game 3: Saturday, October 5
Atlanta 10Final
San Francisco 2
Game 4: Sunday, October 6
Atlanta 3Final
San Francisco 8
Game 5: Monday, October 7
San Francisco 3Final
Atlanta 1

    8:20 PM ET, October 7, 2002

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

    123456789 R H E
    SF 010100100 3 - -
    ATL 000001000 1 - -

    W: R. Ortiz (2-0)

    L: K. Millwood (1-1)

    S: R. Nen (2)

    Bonds gets postseason monkey off his back

    ATLANTA (AP) -- Barry Bonds finally got to celebrate in Atlanta.

    Game 5 at a glance
    Barry Bonds' first two homers of the series had come in games the Giants lost, but he had the big hits in Game 5. He singled and scored the first run of the game and homered to make it 2-0.

    Gary Sheffield didn't get much to hit and was 1-for-16 (.063) in the series, including a key strikeout in the ninth inning with no outs and two runners on.

    Key move
    With runners at the corners and one out after Sheffield had struck out, Dusty Baker had first baseman J.T. Snow hold Julio Franco at first base. When Chipper Jones grounded sharply right to the bag, Snow turned the series-ending double play.

    Key stat
    50-0. The Braves had won 50 straight games in which John Smoltz had appeared.

    Looking ahead
    The Giants move on to face the Cardinals. Kirk Rueter (1-0, 2 R in 7.1 IP vs. Cardinals this year) is likely to start Game 1. Matt Morris will go for St. Louis. He was 2-0, 0.56 against the Giants, allowing just one run in 16 innings.

    Ten years ago, Bonds' throw to the plate was too late to get slow-footed Sid Bream, who slid across the plate with the run that sent the Braves to the 1992 World Series.

    This time, Bonds watched his teammates turn a series-ending double play. He pointed toward the sky and jogged slowly toward his carousing teammates, looking a bit bewildered by the whole experience.

    Bonds was a playoff winner at last, homering and scoring the first two runs as the San Francisco Giants held off the Braves 3-1 in the decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series Monday night.

    ''I must admit, I'm a little bit shocked,'' Bonds said. ''I've never been past the first round. I don't know how to respond. Should I be happy or just sit here?''

    One of the greatest players in baseball history finally seized the playoff stage, homering three times in the series. He's not satisfied.

    ''I'll be happy once I win the World Series,'' Bonds said.

    San Francisco won the final two games against Atlanta, though it got dicey at the end. The Braves, no strangers to postseason misery, put runners on first and third with no outs in the ninth.

    But Robb Nen struck out Gary Sheffield and then got Chipper Jones to ground into a double play to end it.

    ''I felt when we got two runners on in the ninth, we would win it,'' said Sheffield, who was 1-for-16 in the series. ''I'm not a sore loser. Those guys played good.''

    Sheffield, a close friends of Bonds, is now rooting for the Giants to win it all.

    ''I'm glad he's getting his opportunity. I hate it's at the expense of me,'' Sheffield said. ''I'm going to call him tonight, and tell him to go ahead and take it all the way.''

    Russ Ortiz earned his second win, sending the wild-card Giants to a matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL championship series. Game 1 is Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

    At 38 and in his 17th major league season, Bonds will be trying to reach his first World Series -- but he's already exorcised one of his demons.

    Russ Ortiz picked up his second win of the series after giving up one run in 5 1/3 innings.

    In five previous trips to the postseason, the last two with San Francisco, his teams were 0-for-5. The four-time NL MVP and home-run king hit just .196 with one homer and six RBI in those games.

    ''I prayed Barry would have a great series, and a great series he did,'' manager Dusty Baker said. ''He hit the ball a lot harder than the numbers indicate. I'm very glad for him.''

    Two of Bonds' postseason losses were to the Braves, including a gut-wrenching defeat in Game 7 of the '92 NLCS at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, now the site of a parking lot just across the street from Turner Field. The Braves scored three runs in the ninth, with Bream barely beating Bonds' throw from left field to score the winning run.

    ''The Braves have been my nemesis for years,'' Bonds said.

    Because of those failures, Bonds became known as a player who couldn't come through in the biggest games. But in less than a week, he did his best to purge all those unpleasant memories.

    Bonds' first two homers of the series didn't have much impact in blowout games, but the third gave San Francisco a crucial run in the tightest matchup of the series.

    Appropriately, he finally won a playoff series on the anniversary of his record-breaking 73rd homer.

    In the ninth, Baker and his coaches huddled in the dugout before Chipper Jones batted, deciding to have first baseman J.T. Snow guard the line.

    The move paid off when Jones grounded over the bag, Snow grabbed it for one out, then flipped to shortstop Rich Aurilia, who tagged out Julio Franco to end the series.

    ''If he's off the line, that's a tie ballgame,'' Baker said. ''We were just thinking lucky.''

    Leading off the fourth against Kevin Millwood, Bonds worked the count full, then sent a fastball soaring into the crisp Georgia night. Outfielders Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones barely had time to move before the 417-foot drive settled midway up in the left-center seats.

    ''I was just a little bit more aggressive,'' Bonds said. ''They say they come at me more than anyone else. I'm glad they motivated me on this one today.''

    Bonds also scored San Francisco's first run, starting the second with a single to left. He moved to second on an infield grounder and came home when Reggie Sanders singled up the middle with two outs.

    Bonds drew a walk in the eighth, but was thrown out trying to steal.

    The Braves, who scored 25 runs in the first four games, were held hitless by Ortiz through the first three innings.

    From the fourth on, they squandered all sorts of chances, leaving the bases loaded once and two runners on in three other innings.

    In all, Atlanta stranded 12.

    The Braves loaded the bases in the fifth on third baseman David Bell's throwing error and two walks. Ortiz fell behind 2-0 in the count to Chipper Jones, but bounced back to get the cleanup hitter on a grounder for the third out.

    Ortiz, the Game 1 winner, was replaced in the sixth after giving up two hits and throwing his 95th pitch. Aaron Fultz surrendered a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa, then Felix Rodriguez escaped yet another jam by retiring Matt Franco and Rafael Furcal.

    The Giants quickly reclaimed their two-run lead in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs to set up Kenny Lofton's sacrifice fly.

    With Atlanta's departure, the three winningest teams during the regular season -- the Braves, New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics -- all were sent packing in the first round of the postseason.

    Also, for the first time since the current postseason format was adopted in 1995, all four teams with the best record were eliminated in the opening round.

    For the Braves, this has become the norm. Despite winning 11 straight division titles, they have managed only one World Series championship. For the second time in three years, they couldn't even get out of the opening round.

    ''We're at the point in this clubhouse where it doesn't matter what you do in the regular season,'' Chipper Jones said.

    Now, Atlanta faces an uncertain future. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, the anchors of the pitching staff, are both at the end of their contracts. With declining attendance, heavy financial losses and belt-tightening ownership, the Braves could be forced to take a sizable chunk out of payroll for the first time in their amazing streak.

    The Braves didn't get much help from their key acquisition during the last offseason. Sheffield was supposed to bolster to shaky Atlanta offense -- especially in the playoffs -- but didn't do anything after a Game 1 homer.

    Instead, the postseason spotlight finally belonged to Bonds.

    Game notes

    The Giants struck out 13 times against five Atlanta pitchers. ... The Braves were in a decisive postseason contest for the first time since Game 7 of the '96 NLCS.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press