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Giants move to within two games of D-Backs

9/26/2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds has become the unofficial
hitting coach for Reggie Sanders.

While Bonds didn't homer himself Wednesday night, his advice
helped Sanders connect twice as the streaking San Francisco Giants
beat the San Diego Padres 6-0 to maintain their lead in the NL
wild-card race.

"I felt good in BP today and it carried over into the game,''
Sanders said. "I've been talking to (Bonds) a little more as far
as approach. I've been talking to him the last two days and it's
paying off, so I'll go back to him.''

Livan Hernandez pitched a two-hitter on the way to his third
shutout of the season and the fifth of his career.

The Giants, who won their fifth in a row, remain three games
ahead of Los Angeles for the wild card. The Dodgers scored twice in
the ninth to beat Colorado 3-2 at home. San Francisco's magic
number to clinch a playoff spot is two.

The Giants also pulled within two games of NL West-leading
Arizona. San Francisco plays three games at home with Houston this
weekend, and also has a possible makeup left at Atlanta.

Manager Dusty Baker won't be fishing during the team's off-day
Thursday -- he'll be scoreboard watching, just as he always does.

Had the Dodgers lost Wednesday, the Giants would have had a
chance to clinch Thursday without even playing.

"You win it when you win it,'' Baker said. "You don't care
where or how, just win. Teams I've been on have either won it
handily or won it at the end. You can't get more at the end than
this.''

Sanders hit a two-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole
in the third against Clay Condrey (1-2). Sanders hit his 23rd
homer, a solo shot, in the fifth off reliever Kevin Walker.

Sanders had his fourth multihomer game of the year and the 18th
of his career.

"The score shows how I pitched,'' Condrey said. "When I had to
make pitches, I left balls up and they hit them pretty good.
Hernandez threw a great game tonight. It's hard to compete against
a guy like that.''

Hernandez (12-16) allowed a second-inning single to Phil Nevin
and a single to Mark Kotsay in the seventh. The right-hander has
never lost to the Padres in Pacific Bell Park, going 5-0 in seven
starts.

Hernandez struck out two and walked one. The win was especially
gratifying considering it followed a disappointing outing in his
previous start, when he gave up six runs on five hits in 2 1/3
innings in a loss at Los Angeles last Thursday.

"In LA last time, I was feeling real good, the best time all
year,'' he said. "In one inning I gave up six runs and I said 'I
can't believe that.' I said this is over and I have to be ready for
the next time.''

Giants third baseman David Bell made several great plays on the
night he was named the 2002 "Willie Mac'' award winner, which is
voted on by the team for the most inspirational player. It was
established in 1980 in honor of Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.
McCovey played with Bell's father and grandfather. Bell was 2-for-4
and scored a run.

J.T. Snow and Rich Aurilia each drove in runs with sacrifice
flies and Hernandez had two sacrifice bunts. Benito Santiago got
aboard on a fielding error by Nevin to score a run in a two-run
first.

Condrey gave up an infield single on his fourth pitch of the
game to Kenny Lofton and the ball hit off Condrey's leg and bounced
toward third base. Aurilia took a pitch off the mouth and chin area
in San Francisco's next at-bat but stayed in the game and came
around to score on Snow's fly.

"The Giants are playing great ball,'' San Diego manager Bruce
Bochy said. "They're rolling at the right time. We're disappointed
to put two games together like this, but they're playing very well.
We'll see if we can regroup. We've hurt ourselves a lot this year
and we did it again tonight.''

Game notes
Condrey had not allowed a home run while pitching for the
Padres coming into the game, a span of 22 1/3 innings. ... Bonds
drew his major league-leading 194th walk in the first. He has now
walked in 16 straight games to tie the NL record set by Jack Clark
of St. Louis in 1987. The major league mark is 22, by Detroit first
baseman Roy Cullenbine in 1947. The Padres have walked Bonds 34
times this year. ... The Giants turned a 3-1-5 double play in the
second. ... San Francisco got its 300th win over San Diego. ... The
Giants have had winning streaks of five or more games six times
this year.