SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Kannon Kile hopped around the field, giving
low-fives to his dad's former teammates.
The 5-year-old leaped into Fernando Vina's arms and then ran
toward the plate, sliding home in his clean, white St. Louis
A Cardinals victory was secured and their season once again
saved as they held the San Francisco Giants at bay -- barely.
Three St. Louis homers that just cleared the wall behind Barry
Bonds in left field overcame his own prodigious shot into McCovey
Cove and gave the Cardinals a 5-4 victory Saturday that cut San
Francisco's lead to 2-1 in the NL championship series.
St. Louis endured a traumatic season with Darryl Kile's death in
June. The pitcher has served as an inspiration ever since, with his
jersey hanging in the dugout -- and now his son providing an
emotional lift to the Cardinals throughout the game.
"It was very special having him out there,'' Cardinals catcher
Mike Matheny said. "It was very special I'm sure for him and for
Matheny and Jim Edmonds hit solo homers that helped St. Louis
shake off some early jitters and take a 4-1 lead. Eli Marrero then
connected for a tiebreaking shot in the sixth inning in St. Louis'
first at-bat after Bonds' blast.
After losing the first two games at home, the Cardinals avoided
falling into a hole that no team in baseball has ever overcome.
"We had to win this game today to make it a series,'' manager
Tony La Russa said. "If you go down 3-0, it would be really tough.
We made it a competitive series. But they're still in charge.''
The Cardinals preserved the narrow lead with clutch relief,
getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh. Jason
Isringhausen worked the ninth for the save, pitching around a
one-out walk to Bonds.
"We weren't going to give him a chance to be another god in the
ninth,'' Isringhausen said.
There was a high-flying air show by the Blue Angels, which soared
above the ballpark in their F/A-18 Hornets, leaving vapor trails as
the players stopped and marveled at one point.
But the game provided more than enough entertainment for an
energetic sellout crowd of 42,177 at Pacific Bell Park.
The most exciting moment came when Bonds walked to the plate
with two runners on and the Giants trailing 4-1 in the fifth
After taking a first-pitch ball from winning pitcher Chuck
Finley, Bonds connected with his maple bat, hitting a drive to
right field. He tossed his bat aside and raised his arms to the sky
as the ball sailed into San Francisco Bay for the first splash
homer in postseason history.
"It changes the mood in the dugout,'' Bonds said. "It gets
everybody fired up. But then they came back and took the lead.''
The ball was quickly scooped up by a fan in a small boat with a
net as Bonds rounded the bases and kissed his son as he crossed
Bonds' fourth postseason homer this year and fifth of his career
caught nearly everyone's attention. Some of the Minnesota Twins
watched the at-bat as they took batting practice down the coast in
Anaheim before Game 4 of the ALCS.
The homer was just the second Finley had allowed to a lefty in
his past 62 starts. But then again, Bonds is no normal lefty.
"I didn't see him hit it, he hit it so hard,'' Finley said. "I
only knew it was a home run when he threw his arms up.''
After Marrero's homer down the left-field line off losing
pitcher Jay Witasick gave the Cardinals the lead, they didn't let
Bonds beat them his next time up, walking him intentionally with a
runner on second.
The move, which put the go-ahead run on base, prompted the
chicken dance to be shown on the center-field scoreboard and the
fans to boo.
"I'm just trying to figure out our best chance to win the
game,'' La Russa said. "I think it makes sense.''
Benito Santiago then hit a slow roller under Dave Veres' glove
for an infield single to load the bases. Veres struck out Reggie
Sanders and Steve Kline retired J.T. Snow on a groundout -- the
third time the Giants left the bases loaded. San Francisco stranded
11 runners overall.
"We just couldn't get that big hit today,'' Giants manager
Dusty Baker said.
Both teams looked discombobulated early with wild throws,
miscommunications and blunders in the field leading to early runs.
Finley overcame two misplays in the first. Shortstop Edgar
Renteria committed an error and Vina forgot to cover second base on
a force. But Finley retired Sanders with the bases loaded to end
the inning as the Cardinals escaped a near collision between Vina
and Edmonds in center.
"We just didn't capitalize on what was given to us today,''
Rich Aurilia said.
The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the second on Aurilia's sacrifice
fly after neither Finley nor third baseman Albert Pujols tried to
field a bunt by Ortiz that loaded the bases.
San Francisco then loaded the bases with two outs for Bonds, but
the slugger just missed and popped up a ball to right field. Bonds
clapped his hands in disgust at the missed chance.
"I was fortunate to make a good enough pitch to pop him up,''
Finley said. "That could have been the game right there.''
Vina almost collided with J.D. Drew this time, prompting a
conference of Cardinals that started on the field and continued in
the dugout between innings.
"We weren't playing the best defense we could play,'' Matheny
said. "Chuck did a great job keeping his composure giving us a
chance because things could have gotten ugly.''
St. Louis capitalized on a third-strike wild pitch by Ortiz and
Lofton misjudging Vina's line-drive double to center to score two
runs in the third and take their first lead of the series.
Matheny's first homer since April 26 -- a span of 279 at-bats --
made it 3-1 in the fourth.
In the fifth, Edmonds hit the first ball of the day into McCovey
Cove, but it was just foul down the right-field line. He then hit
the next pitch over Bonds' head in left.
The 13 homers in the series are tied for the most in NLCS
history. ... The Giants have scored in the first or second inning
in 16 straight games. ... The Cardinals had lost nine of 10 NLCS