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Streaking Giants move past Reds in NL wild-card race

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Giants manager Felipe Alou thinks there's still time for San Francisco to overcome its deficit in the NL wild-card race.

"We're going to play for a lot at home," Alou said after Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. "The players understand this is serious stuff. They put themselves in position to challenge for first place and the wild card."

Jonathan Sanchez won his first major-league start and Ray Durham
homered twice for the Giants, who have won eight of their last 12 games. San Francisco trails San Diego, the wild-card leader, by 3½
games and Cincinnati is 4½ games back of the Padres. Florida and
Philadelphia are both three games behind the Padres.

The Giants, who play 12 of their final 23 games at home, start a six-game homestand Friday with three games against the Padres.

"Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen," Durham said. "All we're asking for is that opportunity."

While the Giants have spurted, the Reds have slumped, losing 10 of their last 12.

"There's still a lot of baseball left," Cincinnati catcher David Ross said. "Nobody's making offseason plans yet."

Sanchez (3-0), who had made 22 relief appearances, allowed one run and two hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two. Mike Stanton pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in nine chances, completing a six-hitter.

"I just wanted to get ahead of the hitters," Sanchez said. "It's just like going in in relief; you've got to throw strikes."

Alou said that Sanchez, making a spot start because Noah Lowry
had an irritated left elbow, surprised Cincinnati hitters with a "sneaky" fastball in the low-90 mph range.

"He's got a sinker, but he also has a four-seamer that rises," Alou said.

Reds manager Jerry Narron said it isn't just the new pitchers who are giving his team trouble.

"Right now, we're struggling with guys we have seen," Narron said. "We're definitely not exploding offensively."

Sun-Woo Kim (0-1), obtained by the Reds on Tuesday from Colorado, allowed two runs and four hits in five innings. Kim had a 19.29 ERA in six relief appearances for the Rockies before he was demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"My command wasn't great," Kim said. "My best pitch is my fastball, and it wasn't working to left-handers."

Barry Bonds, 25 shy of Hank Aaron's career homer mark, was given the day off. Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. was out of the lineup for the second day after dislocating a toe on his right foot while trying to catch Bonds' 730th career homer Monday night.

Shea Hillenbrand's sacrifice fly in the first put the Giants ahead and Durham homered in the second.

Pinch-hitter Norris Hopper singled in a run for the Reds in the fifth, his first major-league RBI, and Durham hit his 23rd homer in the sixth, a drive off Ryan Franklin.

Royce Clayton had an RBI double off Kevin Correia in the eighth.

With the potential tying run on second, Correia retired Rich Aurilia on a popout, Steve Kline struck out Adam Dunn and, after a walk to Juan Encarnacion, Vinnie Chulk retired Ross on a flyout.

Game notes
Reds closer Eddie Guardado, who has been on the DL since Aug. 20 with a sore left forearm, was transferred to the 60-day DL after an MRI exam revealed a torn ligament in his left elbow. Right-hander Jason Johnson was brought up from Triple-A Louisville.