<
>

D-Backs win 7th in row, finish 2nd in West

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Bob Melvin is a believer in momentum, and
that it can carry over into a new season. His Arizona Diamondbacks
are on quite a roll to end this year.

Royce Clayton lined a tiebreaking double in the 11th inning for
his fourth hit of the day, and the Diamondbacks won their
season-best seventh straight game with a 2-1 victory over the San
Francisco Giants on Saturday.

"Everybody feels good right now," said Melvin, who has helped
turn around the team in his first season as manager after Arizona
lost 111 games last year. "To keep climbing, keep clawing and keep
playing hard is a nice feel-good for the organization."

Tony Clark hit a first-inning sacrifice fly, Luis Gonzalez
extended his season-best hitting streak to 11 games with a double
off the right-field wall in the eighth, and the Diamondbacks
wrapped up second place in the NL West behind the San Diego Padres.

Clayton doubled against Armando Benitez (2-3) to score Shawn
Green from first, sending the Giants to their fifth straight loss.
This stretch of success has been nice, but Clayton just wishes the
Diamondbacks could have played like this in time to make a run at
the division title and a playoff berth.

"It's nice but a little frustrating at the same time. It kind
of got too late," Clayton said.

Brandon Medders (4-1) pitched the 10th, and Jose Valverde
finished for his 15th save in 17 chances. The Diamondbacks have
their best winning streak since getting 12 straight victories from
June 18-30, 2003.

Arizona has won five straight road games and nine of 11 for a
41-39 record that guarantees the Diamondbacks the team's first
winning record on the road since 2002, when Arizona went 43-38.

Melvin thinks the strong finish could provide the club with a
boost heading into 2006, especially considering the Diamondbacks'
drastic improvement.

"Any step in the right direction and finishing up like this can
carry over to next year," Melvin said.

The Giants missed several opportunities.

Randy Winn, the majors' top hitter in September with a .447
average and 51 hits, doubled leading off the eighth after going
hitless in his first three at-bats.

Omar Vizquel's sacrifice bunt moved Winn to third, then Lance
Niekro drew a full-count walk to put runners on the corners for Ray
Durham. Julio Ramirez entered as a pinch runner, then Durham struck
out and drop kicked his bat in frustration. Pedro Feliz followed
with an inning-ending lineout.

Lance Niekro hit a solo homer in the first for the Giants, the
12th of the year for the rookie. San Francisco had baserunners in
the third, fourth and sixth but couldn't capitalize.

Barry Bonds has shut it down for the year to rest his surgically
repaired right knee and prepare for next season.

"His knee's decision," manager Felipe Alou said.

Bonds, third on the career home run list with 708, was still
with the team working out and rehabbing.

Brad Hennessey pitched seven strong innings but ended the season
with back-to-back no decisions after his victory Sept. 21 at
Washington ended a nine-start winless stretch. He allowed one run
and four hits in a 104-pitch effort.

"I wanted to finish better than I started," Hennessey said.
"I wanted to end on a good note and take it into next season, and
I was able to do that."

Alou is high on Hennessey, who came up as an emergency starter
but has impressed the Giants enough recently he could compete for a
spot in the rotation again in 2006.

"Hennessey reassured us and himself that he's something we can
count on next year," Alou said. "He's more confident now."

Javier Vazquez, who managed just one win in his final seven
starts, allowed seven hits and one run in eight innings. The
right-hander started the year 7-4 in his first 14 outings then went
4-11 over his last 19.

Game notes
Clayton also stole two bases, his 12th and 13th of the
year. ... Vazquez faced the Giants three times this season at San
Francisco and won once. ... Giants 3B Edgardo Alfonzo didn't play
as he nursed his tender left calf after fouling a pitch off the leg
Friday night. He did the same thing in the same spot two years ago,
so it still bothers him. Alfonzo wasn't sure whether he would play
in Sunday's final game of the season. ... San Francisco C Mike
Matheny rested and so did RF Moises Alou. ... Giants rookie RHP
Matt Cain celebrated his 21st birthday. ... LHP Scott Eyre made his
career-high 86th appearance for the Giants, a franchise
single-season record. "I'm taking the day off tomorrow," he said
with a grin. "I'll think about it when I get home, but I had a
pretty good season."