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Giants deliver Busch-whacking

San Francisco goes up 2-0 on Cards in NL championship series

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Rich Aurilia, Jason Schmidt and the San Francisco Giants set down the Cardinals without much of a fight.

Aurilia homered twice, Schmidt pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning and the Giants shut down St. Louis 4-1 Thursday night for a 2-0 lead in the NL championship series.

A day after the teams nearly came to blows in a noisy opener at Busch Stadium, there were no hostilities. Barry Bonds was quiet aside from overrunning a fly ball in left field, but the Giants didn't need their slugger as -- for the first time in franchise history -- they opened a postseason series with consecutive road victories.

''To come in here and win two games, you think about how many times we've been heartbroken in the bottom of the ninth in this park,'' Giants manager Dusty Baker said. ''We had a number of heroes tonight.''

Aurilia kept up his power surge with his fourth homer of this year's playoffs, connecting on Woody Williams' fourth pitch of the game. Schmidt made the lead stand up, helped by another key play from Kenny Lofton.

''It was probably my best game because of the circumstances,'' Schmidt said.

This Busch-whacking complete, the Giants headed home to Pacific Bell Park for Game 3 Saturday. Russ Ortiz will start for San Francisco against Chuck Finley.

''In one sense, it's a perfect setup for us,'' St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. ''It's been a hard year, this has been a hard start.''

Only three times in postseason history has a team lost the first two games at home and come back to win a best-of-seven series -- it's never happened in an LCS.

''You come in here, probably at first, you look for a split,'' Aurilia said. ''This is awesome.''

Lofton, in the middle of Game 1's skirmish and booed because of it, caught a fly ball in short center field and threw out J.D. Drew at the plate to end the third inning.

Backup Ramon Martinez also made a neat contribution. After replacing Aurilia at shortstop in a double switch, he had a suicide-squeeze bunt in the ninth for insurance.

''It'll probably be five years before we call another one,'' Baker said.

The Cardinals finally scored on a pinch-hit homer by Eduardo Perez with two outs in the eighth. Robb Nen got four outs for his second save of the series.

All was calm at the ballpark following Wednesday night's fracas. La Russa and Baker were each fined $500, and non-roster players -- many of whom left the dugout to join the pushing and shoving -- were banned from the bench.

Umpire crew chief Randy Marsh, after talking with commissioner Bud Selig and other baseball officials, decided not to issue a warning to the clubs about inside pitches. There were no problems, either, dispelling thoughts that the rivals had become Arch Enemies.

Schmidt didn't need to buzz anyone to silence St. Louis. He gave up four hits and struck out eight, reaching 98 mph with his fastball. It was fine redemption for him, having lost to Atlanta this month in his only other playoff start.

Aurilia's big night was even more unexpected.

After hitting 37 home runs in 2001, he dipped down to 15 this season. Batting at the top of the lineup and mainly ahead of Bonds, his drop-off hurt the Giants.

But Aurilia homered twice with seven RBIs as San Francisco beat the Braves to win the opening round, and broke loose against Williams for his first two-homer game of the year.

The crowd of 52,195 got right into the spirit, jeering Lofton when he walked to the plate to lead off the game and cheering even louder when he flied out.

Lofton scored three times in Game 1, and the way he twisted out of reliever Mike Crudale's high-and-tight fastball in the fifth inning triggered the craziness. To Cardinals fans, his display made him Public Enemy No. 1 -- coincidentally, the number he wears for the Giants.

Aurilia was up next, and he quickly hushed the fans when he followed by hitting a high drive over the left-field fence.

Aurilia struck again in the fifth for a two-run homer with two outs. After Lofton struck out looking for the second time, Aurilia reached out -- too far, it looked on contact -- and still managed to loft a fly ball over the wall in left-center.

When the inning ended, Aurilia stood up in the dugout and got ready to go onto the field. Lofton came by and, with a big smile on his face, playfully pushed Aurilia on the upper chest with his right hand.

Earlier, Lofton made the biggest defensive play of the game.

Drew opened the third by beating Schmidt to the bag for an infield hit, Mike Matheny singled and Williams sacrificed. Fernando Vina followed with a fly to shallow to left-center that Lofton caught, and his one-hop throw home beat Drew.

Catcher Benito Santiago made the tag and pointed his finger. Lofton and Bonds jogged off the field together, confidently.

''We were all yelling, including myself, 'Send him! Send him!,''' La Russa said. ''They made the pitch, they made the play.''

Bonds went 0-for-3 with a walk. He struck out twice for just the fifth time in a game this year.

Notes: Williams struck out seven in six innings. He pitched for the first time since pulling a muscle in his left side on Sept. 20. ... Bonds has reached base in 14 of 30 plate appearances during the playoffs. ... Olympic gold medal winner Jackie Joyner-Kersee threw out the first ball. ... Selig enjoyed a quiet night, unlike the razzing he took from Twins fans at the Metrodome.



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