Giants prevail over rivals even without Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds accepted another shelf's worth
of awards, then disappeared into the dugout and left it to his
teammates to win without him.

Felipe Alou said throughout spring training that the Giants
would find ways to be successful despite the absence of their
injured star -- and they showed it in their opener, against their
rival and in front of a fervid sellout crowd.

Ray Durham scored the go-ahead run on Jose Valentin's
seventh-inning error at third, and Jason Schmidt struck out nine in
seven strong innings to lead San Francisco over the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 on Tuesday.

And oh what a Giants debut for Omar Vizquel.

The nine-time Gold Glove shortstop, fighting nerves in the early
innings, had a single, a double, a walk and a stolen base. He also
combined with second baseman Ray Durham to turn a crucial and
difficult double play in the ninth inning -- Durham scooped up a
slow chopper by Milton Bradley and made an underhand toss to
Vizquel, who then leapt over Jeff Kent and threw to first baseman
J.T. Snow.

"I've been turning that double play for a while," said
Vizquel, who spent the last 11 seasons with Cleveland. "I'm used
to making that. No doubt we have a great defensive team."

What Vizquel considered a routine play was cause for celebration
for San Francisco fans who have been starved of great shortstop
defense in recent years.

Edgardo Alfonzo, trimmer after a rigorous offseason routine, hit
a tying two-run homer in the fourth for the Giants, favored to win
the NL West.

"We have to come in every day and be positive," Alfonzo said.
"We know we miss Barry, and everybody knows that. But we don't
have to lay down."

Scott Eyre retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the
eighth, and Armando Benitez worked the ninth for his first save as
San Francisco's new closer. The Giants added a run on pitcher
Giovanni Carrara's throwing error in the eighth.

While it's only one win, this meant plenty to the Giants,
knocked out of playoff contention last fall by their rival in
Dodger Stadium. And, in 2000 when the Giants' fancy new waterfront
ballpark opened, Los Angeles swept San Francisco in a three-game

"With Barry out, we need everybody to get off to the best
possible start with the bat," said Alou, San Francisco's
third-year manager.

Bonds, recovering from two operations on his right knee, is on
the disabled list for the third time in his career, the first since
April 18 to June 9, 1999, when he recovered from elbow surgery.
Bonds had made 18 straight opening-day appearances, which had been
the longest active streak in the majors.

Derek Lowe lost in his Dodgers' debut, allowing two earned runs
and eight hits in seven innings with six strikeouts and two walks.
But his defense couldn't make the routine play when it had to.

"I'm never happy when I lose," said Lowe, who in his previous
start pitched seven shutout innings against St. Louis to complete
Boston's first World Series title since 1918.

Cesar Izturis homered for Los Angeles on the second pitch of the
game, his first leadoff homer and the first by the Dodgers since
Aug. 9, 2003, against Chicago.

The last time Los Angeles began the season with a leadoff homer
had been April 4, 1988, by Steve Sax off San Francisco's Dave
Dravecky. The Dodgers went on to win the World Series that year.

"Izturis hit the home run and it went downhill from there,"
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "We didn't do much offensively and
then we surrendered those runs."

Jason Phillips made it 2-0 with a second-inning sacrifice fly
for the defending NL West champions, whose offseason overhaul has
everybody curious how this team will respond.

Schmidt, who got the win, didn't let that one bad pitch to
Izturis haunt him. Starting with Phillips' sacrifice fly, the
right-hander retired 10 of the next 11 batters. He also got four
straight strikeouts during one stretch that included striking out
the side in the sixth.

"I felt like I was in a groove the whole game," Schmidt said.
"It was just fun to go out there and put the ball where you

Bonds received a 1-minute standing ovation from the sellout
crowd and emphatically declared "I will be back!" when introduced
before the game and given four awards.

He tipped his hat and waved in all directions to the crowd at
SBC Park. At one point, appearing emotional, he buried his face in
his hat.

"I'm speechless and I want to thank my family for being behind
me for all these years," he said. "I thank God for the blessings
he's given me to be able to play this game. Last but not least, I
thank the city of San Francisco. I thank these fans. There are no
better fans in the world."

The game drew a ballpark record 42,788 fans, surpassing the
previous record of 42,686 set last July 22 against San Diego.

Game notes
Felipe Alou, who turns 70 in May, is fighting his third
cold of the spring. He will have some time to recover Wednesday,
when he serves a one-game suspension he received as an automatic
penalty last Sept. 23 when Dustin Hermanson hit Kent with a pitch.
Major League Baseball allowed Alou to serve it Wednesday rather
than on opening day. Bench coach Ron Wotus will manage Wednesday.
... Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda watched the
game together from the press box. ... Kent, who spent the 1997-2002
seasons with the Giants, was booed lustily every time he came up.