Giants cut deficit to two games

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Dodgers' offense has sputtered recently.
As a result, they're still trying to make the playoffs with two
games remaining.

Kirk Rueter pitched seven strong innings and the San Francisco
Giants defeated Los Angeles 4-2 on Friday night, preventing the
Dodgers from clinching their first NL West title since 1995.

"Everyone is real anxious to win the game and celebrate and get
it over," said Shawn Green, who went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
"We just need to relax and go out and play our game. Early on, we
were up there trying to do too much."

The Giants remained tied with the Astros in the wild-card race.
Houston defeated Colorado 4-2.

"There's no time to savor this one," San Francisco manager
Felipe Alou said. "The biggest game of the season is tomorrow and
the second-biggest one is Sunday."

The Giants seemingly hold an edge in the weekend pitching
matchups. The Dodgers will send Elmer Dessens (2-6) against Brett
Tomko (11-7) on Saturday, and likely Kazuhisa Ishii (13-7) against
Jason Schmidt (11-7) in the series finale Sunday.

"Hopefully by winning tomorrow, we could make Sunday
meaningless for us," Green said in a deathly quiet clubhouse. "We
battled all year. We're not going to stop now."

J.T. Snow homered and former Dodger Marquis Grissom doubled home
two runs for the Giants, who need a sweep of the three-game series
to either force a one-game playoff or win the division based on a
10-9 season record against the Dodgers if Houston loses at least

"We're still trying to win the division. You can't think second
place," Grissom said. "If you've still got a chance to win the
division, you have to fight for it. And that's what we're doing."

Grissom doubled to the right-field wall with two outs in the
second off Jeff Weaver (13-13), giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

Michael Tucker singled to right in the seventh, scoring Ray
Durham, who doubled with two outs, to increase San Francisco's lead
to 3-1.

Rueter (9-12) gave up homers to Olmedo Saenz in the fifth and
Steve Finley in the seventh, but allowed just one other hit, struck
out one and walked one in seven innings to beat the Dodgers for the
first time in four games this season.

"I'm not going to overpower people, so I don't get amped up and
overthrow," he said. "I've thrown enough games to know that I
have to pitch my game to be successful and I've been able to do
that -- whether it's a big game or a game in spring training. I have
to keep the ball down and mix up my pitches."

The heart of the Dodgers' lineup struggled against Rueter.
Besides Green, Finley was 1-for-4 and Adrian Beltre was hitless in
four at-bats.

"We pitched well enough to win, but offensively we didn't do
enough to win," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "That's something
that's been going on the last few days. We didn't mount any
run-producing situations."

Dustin Hermanson got three outs for his 17th save.

Weaver gave up three runs on six hits in seven innings. He
struck out five and walked four.

Barry Bonds went 0-for-1 with three walks, including two
intentional, giving him 228 this season.

"Next year we have to find a way to stop that or at least cut
them in half," Alou said. "Even Barry says, `They don't let me

Snow homered off Mike Venafro with one out in the eighth for a
4-2 lead, disappointing a sellout crowd of 54,888 that hoped to
celebrate a division title.

"We have confidence every time we step on the field," Snow

The Dodgers' last playoff appearance was 1996, when they won the
NL wild card and were swept by Atlanta in the first round. In '95,
they lost to Cincinnati in the first round in their only other
postseason appearance since winning the 1988 World Series.

Game notes
Snow's homer was his first off a left-hander since Aug. 4,
2002, off Scott Sauerbeck. ... San Francisco RHP Jim Brower pitched
the eighth for his 89th appearance this season, tying the club
record set by Julian Tavarez in 1987. ... Finley's 35th homer tied
a career high set in 2000 with Arizona. ... The Giants haven't
completed a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium since 2002. ... It's
the seventh time in eight years that Rueter has made at least 30
starts. It was his team-high 33rd.