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Giants win ninth straight

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jason Schmidt made sure the San Francisco
Giants would start this road trip in a much better frame of mind
than they did their last one.

Schmidt pitched another gem, striking out 11 and taking a
shutout into the ninth inning to lead the Giants to their ninth
straight win, 3-1 over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

San Francisco has turned its season around in just two weeks,
with a big spark from their ace. After getting swept at home by
Pittsburgh two weeks ago, the Giants fell a season-worst eight
games below .500. Schmidt (6-2) then started the turnaround with a
one-hitter in Chicago for a 1-0 win. The Giants lost the next day
but haven't fallen since and have played their was right back into
the NL West race.

"I think it all stems back to that one-hitter he threw,"
reliever Jason Christiansen said. "He took the bull by the horns
and said, 'I'm the leader of this team. See what I can do and you
guys can follow me."

After beginning the season with two losses after a stint on the
disabled list, Schmidt has quickly regained the form he had last
year when he won the NL ERA title. He is 6-0 with a 1.73 ERA over
his last seven starts, striking out 60 in 52 innings.

While manager Felipe Alou and Schmidt's teammates credit him for
the team's recent surge, Schmidt deflects the praise.

"I just go out there every five days to pitch. I don't try to
set the tone," he said. "When I'm not pitching the other guys
have to play. I'm not doing anything. Personally, I think it's all
a bunch of baloney."

There's no doubting Schmidt's influence on the days he pitches.
Despite struggling to get loose early, he still struck out seven of
the first 11 batters. He allowed two hits and four walks and only
one batter reached second before he was replaced by Christiansen
following a leadoff walk in the ninth to Mark Sweeney.

Schmidt threw 115 pitches before he was taken out, far fewer
than the 144 he threw against Chicago but still enough to drain him
on a sunny afternoon.

"I could have finished it but I was getting pretty tired," he
said. "With the middle of their lineup coming up it was the right
time to come out."

Christiansen retired Todd Helton on a groundout before Matt
Herges relieved and got Vinny Castilla on a flyout. Jeromy Burnitz
then hit a high, catchable fly to center that defensive replacement
Marquis Grissom lost in the sun. The ball landed just shy of the
warning track for an RBI triple.

Grissom didn't start after spending the previous night in the
hospital with his wife, who gave birth to their daughter,
Gabrielle.

"That's the last time I send in an outfielder for defense who
had a baby the night before," Alou said.

Herges recovered to strike out Matt Holliday for his 16th save,
sending the Rockies to their 10th loss in 11 games overall and
ninth straight in San Francisco. Colorado managed just six runs in
the three losses.

"The difference today is that we got outpitched by Schmidt,"
manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's a horse. From what I saw this
weekend, that entire starting staff is something to be reckoned
with."

Michael Tucker hit a two-run homer and Pedro Feliz went 3-for-3
with an RBI for the Giants, who have a winning record for the first
time since April 14. After sweeping the Rockies and Diamondbacks in
a six-game homestand, the Giants start a 14-game trip Monday in
Arizona.

They won Sunday even with Barry Bonds getting the day off.
Tucker provided all the offense Schmidt needed with his
first-inning homer against Joe Kennedy (4-3) that landed in McCovey
Cove.

Tucker's splash hit was the 34th by the Giants in their fifth
season at this ballpark, joining Jose Cruz Jr., J.T. Snow and
Felipe Crespo (twice) as the only players other than Bonds to do it
for San Francisco.

"That ball was exactly where he likes it -- thigh high and
middle in," Kennedy said. "It was about the only place where he
could hit it out."

Kennedy escaped further damage in the first inning with a quick
pickoff move. He nabbed Feliz at second for the second out, and
then after walking Dustan Mohr, caught him off first to end the
inning.

Feliz made up for it in the third inning with his RBI double,
but Edgardo Alfonzo got thrown out at home after running through
third-base coach Gene Glynn's stop sign.

Game notes
The Giants haven't had a 14-game road trip since 1989, when
they went 5-9. ... The winning streak is San Francisco's longest
since winning nine straight after the All-Star break last season.
... Schmidt had his 16th double-digit strikeout game of his career
and third this season. ... The Rockies optioned OF Brad Hawpe to
Triple-A Colorado Springs after the game and recalled INF Aaron
Miles.