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Giants, Braves go to Game 5

Posted: Monday, October 07, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO -- Livan Hernandez boasted about his postseason perfection, then went out and backed it up.

Hernandez won again in October and the San Francisco Giants battered Tom Glavine for the second time to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-3 Sunday and even their NL division series at 2-2.

''I tried not to put pressure on,'' Hernandez said. ''I knew it was a big game. I do it the same as I do every day. I came into the park and batting practice relaxed, my mind relaxed. I did not want to make a lot of mistakes ... and I won again today.''

Barry Bonds drove in the first run and the Giants led all the way, sending both teams back to Atlanta for a decisive Game 5 on Monday night. Buses to carry the clubs to the airport for cross-country flights were lined up before it ended.

Kevin Millwood, already waiting at home in Atlanta, will pitch for the Braves on three days' rest against a fully rested Russ Ortiz.

Handed a 7-0 lead, Hernandez -- the 1997 NLCS and World Series MVP -- improved to 6-0 in the postseason. Even after a disappointing record of 12-16 in the regular season, he was confident before his first outing of this series.

''I never lose in October,'' he said.

At least one team in the neighborhood is still alive. After the Oakland Athletics were eliminated by Minnesota in the AL division series across San Francisco Bay, Hernandez gave fans plenty to cheer about.

The wild-card Giants won for the first time in six tries when facing postseason elimination since the 1971 NL championship series.

Hernandez carried a no-hit bid into the fifth, but Vinny Castilla hit a high popup that dropped between Hernandez, third baseman David Bell and shortstop Rich Aurilia for a single.

Bell charged in too far and the ball fell behind him. Keith Lockhart followed with another base hit.

Hernandez allowed three runs and eight hits in 8 1-3 innings, striking out six. Giants manager Dusty Baker was booed when he lifted his starter, but Scott Eyre and Robb Nen finished up.

''We were trying to make him throw strikes,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said of Hernandez. ''The first inning we had three strikes (hard-hit balls) at him, but we didn't do much after that. Livan's hard to hit. He comes with so many angles at you. He's sneaky quick.''

Aurilia hit a three-run homer in the third -- his third hit of the game -- as the Giants found the offense that eluded them in the two previous games of the series, both losses.

Aurilia's shot chased Glavine, who threw 68 pitches in just 2 2-3 innings. He is the losingest pitcher in postseason history at 12-15.

Hernandez pitched a 1-2-3 first and had the raucous Pacific Bell Park fans on their feet early, waving their white ''Rally Rags.''

''It's more difficult to be patient when you're down by seven runs, six runs,'' said Atlanta's Gary Sheffield, who went 0-for-4 and is batting .071 in the series.

''He wasn't really coming over the middle of the plate today. He was throwing eephus curveballs and eephus sliders, then he'd show a fastball, so it made it look a lot faster than it really was.''

Sheffield said he'd never seen Hernandez throw those pitches.

''It kind of shocked me when they came out of his hand,'' he said.

Bonds hit a sacrifice fly and the Giants gave Hernandez a two-run cushion in the bottom half, and they were on their way to an easy victory.

Glavine, making his 32nd postseason start, got in trouble in a hurry.

Trying to redeem himself after losing Game 1 at Turner Field, he loaded the bases with none out in the first on a walk to Jeff Kent, sending the fans into a frenzy. They began chanting ''Barry, Barry!'' as the slugger came to bat.

Kenny Lofton scored on Bonds' fly to right-center, the first of his three runs scored. Benito Santiago followed with an RBI groundout to make it 2-0, and the Giants had as many runs as they scored in the entire nine innings of a 10-2 Game 3 loss the day before.

The Giants ran out of the dugout with energy and a sense of urgency this time, as the enthusiastic crowd of 43,070 jumped to its feet. The regular-season cheer of ''Beat LA!'' turned to ''Beat the Braves!''

San Francisco used bloop singles and sacrifice flies to win this one after managing only five hits Saturday and seven in a 7-3 Game 2 defeat at Turner Field.

Hernandez even did something with his bat, laying down two sacrifice bunts, and made a nice play on defense, too. He finished a double play in that ugly fifth inning, getting a congratulatory point of the finger from Aurilia after the out.

''Livan was very focused today,'' Baker said. ''You could tell before the game he was ready. He knew we needed him, and this enhances his reputation as a big-game pitcher. Livan was just on his game. You could tell he wanted it.''

The Braves chased Hernandez in the second. After retiring the first five batters, the right-hander gave up back-to-back, two-out walks to Javy Lopez and Castilla before plunking Lockhart in the leg with a pitch to load the bases.

Hernandez struck out Glavine looking on three pitches to escape the jam.

Glavine intentionally walked Bonds in the second to load the bases with two outs. Glavine then got behind 3-0 to Santiago and walked him to score a run for a 4-0 lead. The Braves got out of it on a fly ball by Reggie Sanders.

Glavine's start might have been his last in a Braves uniform. His contract is up at the end of the season, and Atlanta will have to win Monday to reach the NL championship series for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons.

While the bottom of the Giants' order did in Glavine in the series opener, it was the top half Sunday. In Game 1, Glavine allowed 10 hits in five innings and left with his team behind 6-2.

Hernandez's regular-season record marked the fifth straight season in which he's lost at least 11 games. He pitched 216 innings in 2002 and had three shutouts, but his ERA was over 4.00 in each of the last five months.

The Giants avoided sending Bonds and Baker home empty handed again. Bonds is 0-for-5 in playoff series and Baker is 0-for-2 as a manager.

Baker, general manager Brian Sabean and Kent all are in the final years of their contracts, so this team could potentially look a lot different next year.



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