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Cruz homers twice, Giants roll to 7-0

4/8/2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jose Cruz Jr. couldn't escape Benito
Santiago's motto. All spring, Cruz heard it from the catcher.

"'Once the lights come on,' Benito has been telling me all the
time, 'that's when it counts,''' Cruz said.

That was the case for Cruz on Monday. San Francisco's new right
fielder homered twice, had three hits and drove in three runs to
lead the unbeaten Giants over the San Diego Padres 7-4 in their
home opener.

After a sub-par spring, Cruz has hit safely in all seven games.

Rich Aurilia also had two homers and Edgardo Alfonzo hit his
first home run for San Francisco. And so far, the Giants haven't
had to show much of their speed on the basepaths that manager
Felipe Alou raved about all spring -- because they're winning with
their power.

At 7-0, the Giants are off to their best start since moving to
San Francisco, topping the 6-0 mark that began their
pennant-winning 2002 season. When the franchise was in New York,
the Giants started 7-0 in 1930 and 9-0 in 1918.

"These guys are serious about this season,'' said Alou, who won
his debut in Pacific Bell Park. "The feeling is that we know we
have a shot. What attracted me to this job besides the offer -- the
offer brought me here -- was this franchise.''

Alou was joined by younger brothers Jesus and Matty to throw out
the ceremonial first pitch. An old picture of the three in uniform
with their hands together showed on the center-field scoreboard as
they made their tosses from the mound.

Aurilia hit his second homer in the eighth off Mike Bynum (0-1)
to break a 4-all tie. Alfonzo, who signed as a free agent during
the offseason, came up two batters later and also homered. Aurilia
had his fifth multihomer game, the first since Sept. 4, 2001, at
Arizona.

Even without Dusty Baker in the dugout and former league MVP
Jeff Kent, the Giants are doing just fine.

"There's no Jeff. There's no Dusty. No this guy or that guy.
Why even think about it?'' Aurilia said. "I want to talk about
(Ray) Durham, Edgardo and Felipe.''

And, of course, Cruz.

Cruz hit a solo shot in his first at-bat, and his two-run homer
in his next plate appearance stayed just fair of the foul pole in
left. He singled in the fifth.

Aurilia followed Cruz's third-inning shot with a homer that just
cleared the fence. The Giants also hit back-to-back home runs on
opening day in San Diego last week when Santiago and J.T. Snow
connected on consecutive pitches.

Snow left Monday's game after the seventh because of cramps in
his right calf. San Diego third baseman Sean Burroughs left the
game in the fifth with right shoulder soreness. His replacement,
Lou Merloni, tripled and scored the Padres' first run in the sixth
on a single by Wiki Gonzalez.

Gonzalez drove in two more runs with an eighth-inning double
that chased Felix Rodriguez, and pinch-hitter Mark Loretta doubled
to drive in Gonzalez for the tying run.

Tim Worrell (1-0) pitched the final 1 1/3 innings. Bynum allowed
three runs and three hits in the eighth.

San Francisco starter Jason Schmidt retired the side in the
first, then allowed runners the next five innings.

Schmidt gave up three straight singles with two outs in the
third that loaded the bases, but threw a called third strike past
Ryan Klesko, pumping a fist as he left the mound. Schmidt allowed
one run and seven hits with seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

"We got some runners on against Schmidt, but he made his
pitches when he had to,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.

Barry Bonds went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk, and he
fell over fielding a high flyball to left by Ramon Vazquez in the
sixth, appearing to lose the ball in the sun. Bonds is hitting .200
(4-for-20) in his first six games.

Cruz also made a diving catch on a drive by Xavier Nady in the
second.

Padres starter Oliver Perez gave up four runs and five hits in
five innings, striking out four and walking two.

Alou received a standing ovation and fireworks when he was
introduced, and he tipped his hat to the crowd. The cheers for him
were louder than those for five-time NL MVP slugger Bonds.

The three Alou brothers made up an all-Alou outfield in several
games 40 years ago.

Bonds was joined by his mother and 4-year-old daughter, Aisha
Lynn, who gave him a kiss as he was honored for the MVP and Silver
Slugger award.

Game notes
Bonds struck out in the third for his fifth strikeout of
the season. Last year, he didn't get his fifth strikeout until
April 25. He struck out again in the fifth, and didn't have his
sixth K until May 7 last year. ... Cruz had his third multihit
game. ... Cruz has 11 multihomer games.