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San Francisco 8, Atlanta 5

Oct. 2, 2002 at 7:36 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Barry Bonds' supporting cast produced three two-run doubles Wednesday to boost the San Francisco Giants to an 8-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the opening game of their National League Division Series.

J.T. Snow, Rich Aurilia and Benito Santiago drove in six runs with three swings as the Giants used a patient approach against Tom Glavine and seized home-field advantage from the National League's top seed by winning their ninth straight game.

Wild card winners for the first time, the Giants will go for a sweep of the first two games at Turner Field on Thursday night.

"A lot of people talk about coming here and going 1-1 and going back to San Francisco," Snow said. "We don't want to go .500. We want to win both of them."

Snow is one of San Francisco's so-called "eight dwarfs." Giants right fielder Reggie Sanders came up with the nickname for everyone else in the lineup other than Bonds, who has climbed to legendary status with back-to-back, record-setting seasons.

Bonds, however, has a history of post-season struggles and he went one for four with a walk Wednesday. But his supporting cast totaled 11 hits. The fifth through ninth batters in the lineup went eight for 22 with five RBI and five runs scored.

"It's actually Barry Bonds and eight dwarfs," Sanders said. "That's the way it's been sounding. We as a team don't really worry about the media and how people portray us as a team. It's important for us not to get caught up in all of those forces."

The Giants wrapped up the NL wild card by winning their last eight regular-season games. They entered the playoffs looking for their first series win in three appearances since capturing the 1989 NL Championship Series.

"It's huge," Snow said. "We've only won one game the previous two times we were in the playoffs. It feels good to get it."

The Braves won 101 games during the regular season but needed only one to lose home-field advantage in the best-of-five series. They have earned 11 straight division titles but just one World Series championship in that span.

"I don't think it makes a difference with our tam because we play as well at home as on the road," said Gary Sheffield, who hit a solo homer but also grounded into a game-ending double play. "Sometimes you just have to give the other team credit."

The credit went to San Francisco's unsung players.

Snow, a .246 batter, opened the scoring in the second inning with a two-run double, following consecutive singles by Sanders and Santiago. Sanders hit .250 and Santiago .278 during the regular season.

David Bell had a .261 average in 2002, but he followed Snow with an RBI single to make it 3-0.

Glavine singled home two runs in the bottom of the second, but he gave up three runs on four consecutive two-out hits in the fourth, capped by Aurilia's two-run double. Aurilia, who bats before Jeff Kent and Bonds, hit .257 during the regular season.

"That was the difference in the game," Glavine said. "What you try to do is try to eliminate Barry and have someone else beat you, and unfortunately, somebody else beat me."

Santiago added a two-out, two-run double off Chris Hammond -- who had a 0.95 ERA during the regular season -- in the sixth for an 8-2 cushion. Batting behind Bonds in the fifth slot, Santiago went three for five.

"I have a lot of pressure, but everybody has a lot of pressure, regardless of hitting behind Barry," said Santiago, who is nine for 27 lifetime in the postseason.

Bonds has felt the pressure of a .197 career average in the playoffs. He grounded out, singled and flied out against Glavine, was walked intentionally ahead of Santiago's double and was robbed of a homer by center fielder Andruw Jones in the eighth.

The only four-time Most Valuable Player in major league history and the favorite to win the award this season, Bonds holds single-season records for home runs, walks, intentional walks, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

"Too much focus is put on Barry and what he is going to do," Aurilia said. "It was nice to see the guys in the bottom half come up with big hits."

Bonds refused to speak to the media after the game.

Glavine (0-1) matched a career playoff high by allowing 10 hits and fell to 12-14 in the postseason. Falling behind all day, he surrendered six runs while walking two and striking out three in six innings.

"I felt real good. I felt like I threw the ball well," said Glavine, a two-time Cy Young Award winner. "Sometimes things don't go the way you want them to. I really don't have much of an explanation, other than that."

Known for painting the corners of the plate, Glavine threw first-pitch balls to 12 of 27 batters and was behind in the count to 15 of them. The only other time he gave up 10 hits in 31 post-season outings was in Game 6 of the 1997 NLCS against Florida.

"You just basically know what he's going to throw," Snow said. "You hope he's throwing the ball over the plate."

Russ Ortiz (1-0) picked up his first win in two playoff appearances, allowing two runs and five hits while walking four and striking out three.

The Braves fought back with three runs in the eighth against Tim Worrell, cutting their deficit to 8-5. Sheffield hit a one-out homer and Lopez added a two-run shot, two pitches after Santiago misplayed a two-out foul popup into an error.

"It has happened to me before," the Giants' catcher said. "I remember, it was against the New York Mets. Right after I missed that fly, they hit a home run, and when this happened, I was thinking, 'Oh, please. Don't let that happen again.'"

Robb Nen preserved the three-run lead with a scoreless ninth. Sheffield, Nen's teammate on the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins, represented the tying run at the plate when he bounced into a routine double play.

"I'm pretty relieved," said Aurilia, San Francisco's shortstop. "It just seemed that is was in slow motion. You don't expect Sheffield to hit a ball like that. You expect him to hit a bullet."

The Braves must rely on Kevin Millwood to get even in the series instead of four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux, who was scratched from Thursday's start because of a blister. He will go Saturday.

"It's one loss, but we have a long way to go," Sheffield said. "Hopefully, we can come back tomorrow. It's not a deep hole."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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