<
>

Alou misses chance to get 200th win as Giants manager

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Geoff Blum is determined to do everything
he can to keep the San Diego Padres from feeling the effects of
Khalil Greene's absence.

Blum had a two-run homer and a go-ahead single batting in the
leadoff spot, and San Diego ended a three-game losing streak with a
5-3 victory over the struggling San Francisco Giants on Monday
night.

With Greene sidelined with a broken finger, Blum has been a
reliable replacement.

"That's what a ballclub's all about," he said. "There are
nine guys on the field, but we've all got to pick each other up
once in a while."

Woody Williams (2-1) pitched seven strong innings as the Padres
spoiled another chance for Felipe Alou to earn his 200th win as
Giants manager.

The Padres rebounded from a three-game sweep at Arizona over the
weekend with a much-needed win against Noah Lowry (1-2), defeated
for the second straight start after the left-hander began his big
league career 7-0.

Mark Loretta singled twice and drove in a run and Phil Nevin had
an RBI double to give him a 10-game hitting streak for San Diego.
The Padres have won all three games against their NL West rival so
far this year, including a two-game sweep last week at Petco Park,
after winning the season series last year for the first time since
1998.

Trevor Hoffman struck out the side in the ninth for his third
save, sending the Giants to their ninth defeat in 13 games after
being favored to win the division before the season. San Francisco
will count on ace Jason Schmidt to get the team back on track
Tuesday in the middle game of this series.

Blum connected on an 0-1 pitch from Lowry in the second, sending
the ball over the left-field fence for his third homer of the year.
Only one of the runs was earned on the shot after Sean Burroughs
got aboard when second baseman Ray Durham misplayed his grounder
for an error.

Blum's sixth-inning RBI single made it 4-3 and chased Lowry
after 5 1-3 innings and 107 pitches.

"He's just done a terrific job everywhere," Padres manager
Bruce Bochy said. "He's really taking advantage of his playing
time."

Al Levine replaced Lowry and made his Giants debut hours after
being called up from Triple-A Fresno when San Francisco sent
struggling fifth starter Jerome Williams down to work on his
command.

Levine, a non-roster invitee to spring training before being
waived and re-signed to a minor league deal, immediately gave up an
RBI single to Loretta.

Edgardo Alfonzo hit an RBI double in the first for the Giants,
who scored two runs in the fifth to tie it. Omar Vizquel singled in
a run, then J.T. Snow followed with a bloop single to shallow
left-center that fell between left fielder Ryan Klesko, center
fielder Xavier Nady and Blum.

Vizquel suggested afterward the Giants might need a team
meeting, a notion Alou leaves up to his players because he believes
a meeting can be a sign of "panic."

"It's probably a good idea to have a meeting, good to talk
between ourselves," the nine-time Gold Glove shortstop Vizquel
said. "I'm still waiting for leadership to come forward. ... We're
making a lot of mistakes with pitching and we're not hitting in the
clutch. When you have that combination of both, it's not a good
sign for winning."

While Williams acknowledged he had a little bit of hard luck, he
couldn't complain about a win over this Giants lineup -- even
without injured slugger Barry Bonds.

"They were hitting the ball where we weren't," said Williams,
who struck out seven and walked two. "It was almost like Groundhog
Day sometimes. ... I knew coming in I'd have to be sharp to beat
that lineup."

San Diego loaded the bases against Lowry in the first, but the
left-hander struck out Ramon Hernandez and Nady to get out of the
jam.

Lowry was coming off his first major league loss last Wednesday
against Arizona. After allowing singles to Klesko and Burroughs in
the third, Lowry got seven straight outs, but couldn't sustain it
in the sixth.

He allowed four earned runs and eight hits, struck out five and
walked two. In four starts against the Padres last season, Lowry
had three no-decisions and one win.

"I couldn't get it done," he said. "There's no reason to
doubt myself. I've succeeded at this level before."

Game notes
Bonds walked around the clubhouse without the aid of
crutches, four days after having fluid drained from his surgically
repaired right knee. Bonds socialized with his teammates and
appeared upbeat while playing backgammon against closer Armando
Benitez. ... Lowry threw 51 pitches in the first two innings. ...
Pedro Feliz singled in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to
eight games. ... Aside from his error, Durham also struck out
looking twice before hitting a single in the fifth. ... In 1 2-3
innings, Tyler Walker walked four, struck out two and threw two
wild pitches.