<
>

Pedro off the hook after Boston ties it in 8th

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Pedro Martinez went right after Barry Bonds
in the most anticipated matchup of the most anticipated series on
San Francisco's schedule.

Yet it was a botched fielding play by Bonds that nearly cost the
Giants the game.

Edgardo Alfonzo hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer with two outs in
the eighth inning to lead San Francisco over the Boston Red Sox 6-4
on Saturday.

Alfonzo connected on a 1-1 pitch from Alan Embree (2-1) for his
fourth homer of the year and the first of his career as a
pinch-hitter to snap a 4-4 tie. Matt Herges (3-2) pitched 1 1-3
innings for the win despite blowing his fourth save.

"It was a great feeling," Alfonzo said. "Very gratifying to
win a game like this. He threw me two fastballs and then a slider.
It was a pretty good pitch on his part, but I got a good swing on
it."

The Red Sox pleased the sellout crowd of 42,499 by pitching to
Bonds in a meeting of the six-time NL MVP and Martinez, a
three-time Cy Young Award winner.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona called it one of baseball's
premier matchups. Bonds finished 0-for-4, with a strikeout, flyout,
popout and groundout.

"We wanted to get him out," Francona said. "This game is
about more than one person."

This is the first regular-season series between the clubs, and
the games sold out in 20 minutes in February.

Bonds came in hitting .367 lifetime with a homer against
Martinez. The slugger struck out swinging on an 85 mph cut fastball
on a full count in the first.

"To be honest, I used everything," said Martinez, who allowed
four runs on six hits and struck out six in six innings. "I just
got away with it today. He's the best in the game and I respect
him. It doesn't mean I'm a superman. He's the best and he can get
me any time."

Bonds didn't speak to reporters after the game.

The Red Sox tied it in the eighth to get Martinez off the hook.

Boston loaded the bases against Jim Brower after singles by
David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez and a walk to Gabe Kapler. Herges
entered with two outs to face pinch-hitter Trot Nixon, who hit a
two-run, bloop single to left-center.

Bonds, in left field, and center fielder Marquis Grissom both
hustled to the ball, which fell between the players. Bonds
misplayed the hop for an error that allowed the tying run -- Kapler
-- to score.

The Giants seemed set for a victory over Martinez with no help
from Bonds -- except for a few routine catches he made early.

Ray Durham homered and Noah Lowry pitched five-plus impressive
innings in a spot start, but wound up with nothing to show for it.
Lowry was sent back down to Triple-A after the game.

"That's probably the best game I've ever been a part of,"
Lowry said. "I'm happy for the opportunity. I'm glad they called
on me when they did. It was the best time of my life."

Lowry shut down Boston's powerful lineup -- that was missing
Nomar Garciaparra and Johnny Damon -- a day after the teams combined
for 23 runs in Boston's 14-9 win, a game that featured seven
homers.

Lowry, a 23-year-old lefty, retired 11 of the first 13 Red Sox
batters. He allowed five hits and one run, struck out four and
walked three in 5 2-3 innings.

Wayne Franklin struck out three of the four batters he faced in
relief for the Giants, who won at home for the 10th time in 11
games. Franklin hasn't allowed a run in 17 of 23 appearances.

Dustan Mohr made a rare start in right field and singled twice
while celebrating his 28th birthday. He also made an impressive
throw to get Ortiz out at second in the ninth.

"To make that play for Herges and our team was really
gratifying," Mohr said.

The Giants staked Lowry to a 4-0 lead in the first.

Durham started the inning with a leadoff homer, his third of the
season. Grissom and A.J. Pierzynski each added RBI doubles, and
Pedro Feliz singled in a run.

After Durham's second-inning walk, Martinez retired the next
nine San Francisco batters before Mohr's second single of the game.
Martinez is 3-0 over his last six starts.

Lowry was called up from Triple-A Fresno to make his second
major league start while Brett Tomko is on the disabled list with
right elbow inflammation.

After allowing a leadoff triple in the first to Mark Bellhorn,
Lowry calmly worked himself out of the inning unscathed. He got
Kevin Youkilis and Ortiz to ground out, and struck out Ramirez
swinging on a 75 mph breaking pitch.

Lowry intentionally walked Pokey Reese to load the bases for
Martinez in the fourth. Martinez worked the count full, then
grounded out to short.

Lowry received a loud standing ovation when he gave way to
Franklin in the sixth.

Game notes
Damon pinch-hit in the seventh and struck out looking. ...
Durham hit his 28th career leadoff homer. ... Boston 3B Bill
Mueller, recovering from surgery on his right knee at home in
Arizona, rejoined the team Saturday. Mueller used to play for the
Giants and still loves visiting San Francisco.