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Giants take over NL wild-card lead

9/11/2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jason Schmidt approached catcher Benito Santiago before the San Francisco Giants' showdown against Los Angeles with the lineup card in hand.

Schmidt was ready for a study session. Instead, Santiago quickly told the pitcher to put the sheet aside, and just overpower them.

Schmidt did just that to win for the fourth time in five starts as the Giants beat the Dodgers 5-2 Tuesday night for a one-game lead in the NL wild-card race.

``Some pitchers are good, but they think too much,'' said Santiago, who added some power of his own with a home run.

San Francisco has won five straight games and 13 of 16 to take
over the wild-card lead for the first time since Aug. 13. Both
teams have 18 games remaining, including Wednesday's finale in this
three-game series.

To chants of ``Beat LA! Beat LA!'' Barry Bonds drove in two runs
with a first-inning single and Santiago homered in the fifth off
Kevin Brown (3-4).

Bonds passed Ernie Banks for 20th on the career RBI list with 1,637.

Los Angeles has lost four in a row and five of six.

``Tomorrow's a big day for us to get out of town with a tie,''
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. ``We can't be discouraged by this.
These three games won't determine if we play beyond Sept. 29.
There's too much season left to look at it as the beginning of the
end. It would be ridiculous to look at it that way.''

Schmidt (11-7), who didn't get a decision in his first four
outings this year and then lost in his fifth start, retired his
first seven batters and 10 of 11. He allowed a solo homer to Shawn
Green in the sixth.

Schmidt had late-season success last year, too, going 7-1 with a
3.39 ERA after being traded to the Giants from Pittsburgh on July
30.

On Tuesday, he allowed two runs and six hits with six strikeouts
and one walk in 7 2/3 innings, tipping his hat to the crowd of
41,325 that gave him a standing ovation when he gave way to
reliever Scott Eyre.

``There's nothing better than getting that at Pac Bell,''
Schmidt said. ``It gives you goosebumps coming off the mound.''

Schmidt also hit a single in the second inning and scored on an
RBI grounder by Rich Aurilia. Schmidt appeared to step on the glove
of catcher Paul Lo Duca after a throw home by shortstop Alex Cora,
but the pitcher was called safe.

Jeff Kent then drove in Kenny Lofton, who doubled, with a
groundout for 4-0 lead.

Robb Nen pitched the ninth for his 38th save in 46 chances.

``It has been a different guy every day, and that's how you win,'' Giants manager Dusty Baker said. ``I don't think confidence is a problem on this team.''

Santiago hit the first pitch he saw from Brown with two outs in
the fifth over the wall in right field for a 5-0 lead.

Brown got in trouble early in his first start for the Dodgers
since having back surgery in June. Pitching in place of
right-hander Andy Ashby, who has a blister and infection under the
fingernail of his middle finger on his throwing hand, Brown loaded
the bases for Bonds with no outs in the first.

Bonds' single to left-center scored Lofton and Aurilia, who both
singled. Brown retired the next three batters to get out of the
inning.

He had never lost in San Francisco, entering with a career 9-3 record and 2.51 ERA against the Giants in 14 starts, including a 7-0 mark here.

Brown allowed five runs and six hits in five innings with four
strikeouts and two walks.

``To me, Kevin's performance tonight was much better than the numbers would indicate,'' Tracy said. ``You have to give Jason Schmidt a lot of credit. He pitched extremely well, and those early innings were too taxing on Kevin.''

Giants first baseman J.T. Snow showed in the first inning how
well things have been going for San Francisco -- he sprinted toward
the bullpen and fell over the fence only somewhat gracefully to
catch a foul ball by Lo Duca.

Game notes
Bonds drew his major league-leading 56th intentional walk. He also leads the majors in total walks with 166. ... Brown lost 9-2 to the Giants on opening day. ... Dodgers OF Luke Allen,
recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday, walked in his first major league at-bat. ... Green's homer snapped a 52-inning homerless streak by Giants pitchers.