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Up-and-down Giants stand tall again, win fifth straight

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Seemingly out of it a week ago, the
last-place San Francisco Giants suddenly are on a little roll in
the NL West and determined to make things interesting come
September.

Omar Vizquel and Shea Hillenbrand each hit two-run homers to
help Jason Schmidt win his third straight decision, and the Giants
beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 Friday night for their fifth
straight victory.

"With these five games I think we opened up some eyes,"
Hillenbrand said.

Steve Finley added a solo homer in the eighth for the Giants,
who looked out of contention a week ago but now are playing well
again in their crazy, underachieving division. San Francisco sent
Los Angeles to just its third loss in 20 games on a cool summer
night in the Bay Area.

Schmidt (10-7), facing Los Angeles in back-to-back outings,
struck out five and pitched into the eighth to beat the Dodgers for
the first time in seven starts since a victory on July 14, 2005. He
received a no-decision against starter Greg Maddux last Sunday at
Dodger Stadium.

"We're in the thick of this thing," Schmidt said. "If we keep
doing that, we're going to rack up a lot of wins the last month and
a half."

Nomar Garciaparra had an RBI groundout and J.D. Drew hit a
sacrifice fly for the first-place Dodgers, who began a key
nine-game road trip against the division. They have lost two
straight games.

Vizquel homered for the first time in nearly three months when
he sent the first pitch from Brad Penny (13-6) into the elevated
right-field seats in the third after Randy Winn drew a walk to
start the inning. Vizquel's fourth homer of the year was all it
took to bring on the chants of "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" from the
sellout crowd of 42,862 in San Francisco's waterfront ballpark.

Vizquel went 266 at-bats between home runs since connecting off
Braden Looper of the St. Louis Cardinals on May 22. Finley homered
for the first time since June 25, a span of 118 at-bats.

With Moises Alou aboard on a leadoff double in the sixth,
Hillenbrand connected for his third homer for the Giants with a
drive to left. It was the 15th of the year for Hillenbrand,
acquired by the Giants on July 21 in a trade with Toronto. He also
doubled and singled and Ray Durham added a triple.

Barry Bonds returned to the lineup in left field and hit cleanup
after missing Thursday's game at San Diego with inflammation in his
left elbow. The slugger went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

The Giants, coming off a four-game sweep at San Diego after
three one-run losses to Los Angeles, gave Schmidt enough offense
without Bonds' bat.

The All-Star right-hander, likely in his final season with the
Giants, received a standing ovation when he gave way to Vinnie
Chulk following consecutive one-out walks to pinch-hitter Jason
Repko and Kenny Lofton in the eighth.

Garciaparra also walked to load the bases before Drew's
sacrifice fly to right. Jeff Kent then lined an RBI single to left
and Mike Stanton relieved and got Andre Ethier to fly out.

Schmidt allowed three runs and four hits with three walks in 7
1-3 innings. Armando Benitez pitched a perfect ninth.

"I saw two great pitchers out there, and Schmidt was on top of
his game," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "It seemed like he
was throwing nothing but strikes. Only four balls were hit hard off
Penny, and he paid a price. He got behind the count, but wasn't
missing by much."

Penny, who beat the Giants last Saturday, had his three-game
winning streak snapped on a night he was trying to match his career
high with a 14th victory.

Game notes
Alou hurt his hamstring but his manager father, Felipe,
expected the RF to play Saturday. ... Penny is 2-2 in 12 career
starts against San Francisco. ... The Giants sold out for the 14th
time this year. ... The Dodgers activated right-hander Elmer
Dessens from the 15-day disabled list before the game and optioned
INF James Loney to Triple-A Las Vegas. Dessens gave up Finley's
homer. ... San Francisco placed INF Jose Vizcaino on release
waivers. ... It was 61 degrees at first pitch.