Steve Avery found another reason not to like San Francisco's Candlestick Park Wednesday.
It was more than simply losing, 2-1, to the Giants and Bud Black.
Avery thought he had hit a home run in the third inning, but Candlestick Park's chain-link fence provided an optical illusion.
At least, the umpires thought it was an illusion.
Their ruling was that the ball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. And Avery went back to second.
From initial television replays, it appeared the ball had cleared the fence in the air and should have been a home run. But, on replays minutes later, the Braves' announcers on cable-station TBS agreed the call was correct.
Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox came out on the field, but he argued only briefly.
Neither Cox nor Avery mentioned the key play after the game. But Atlanta Journal and Constitution writer I.J. Rosenberg reported that the TBS truck found a low-level shot that clearly showed the ball cleared the fence.
Avery, who is 0-4 lifetime in the Giants' home park, gave up two runs in the first inning, then pitched brilliantly through seven.
Avery left for a pinch-hitter in the eighth before Terry Pendleton's home run produced the Braves' only run off Black. Just before the home run, Black picked Otis Nixon off first base. Without that, the home run would have tied the score and Avery would have escaped defeat. It was the seventh time Black (5-2) has picked a runner off first.
"I don't really like the park, and I don't like to pitch here," Avery said.
In the first inning Darren Lewis singled and scored on Will Clark's opposite-field double. Robby Thompson's single drove in Clark. The Giants had only two other hits off Avery (6-7).
Black departed after Pendleton's 13th home run. Rod Beck finished for his fifth save.
"If we had lost this game, it would have been devastating," Black said. "We have to start playing well."
After going 7-19 in June, the Giants have started July with a victory.
Houston 3, Cincinnati 2--Eric Anthony's eyes lit up when he saw the first pitch from Scott Bankhead in the bottom of the ninth at Houston.
So did the scoreboard when Anthony hit it for the game-winning home run that enabled the Astros to sweep the three-game series from the Western Division leaders.
Bankhead (8-2) had won five in a row since May 13.
"I hit a high fastball," Anthony said. "I was looking for a slow pitch, and when I saw the fastball my eyes lit up."
Montreal 6, Philadelphia 3--Dennis Martinez (9-6) pitched a strong six innings at Philadelphia to win for the eighth time in his last 10 decisions.
Martinez gave up two runs and six hits and struck out four. Winless rookie Kyle Abbott lost his 10th in a row for the Phillies.
Larry Walker's two-run single in the first started Abbott on the way to another defeat. He gave up six runs and seven hits, leaving with none out in the seventh.
Pittsburgh 1, St. Louis 0--The light-hitting Cardinals helped Zane Smith emerge from a slump in this game at St. Louis.
Smith, who had not won in nine starts since May 9, improved to 6-7 with a five-hitter.
It was the second shutout loss in a row for the Cardinals. In the last five games Cardinal pitchers have given up only eight runs, no more than two in any game, but they are 2-3.
The only run off Mark Clark (0-3) came in the fourth on Andy Van Slyke's double and Gary Varsho's single.
Ozzie Smith was one for four in his return from chicken pox, but he couldn't shake the Cardinals from their hitting slump.
New York 6, Chicago 4--In an effort to pull the Mets out of their latest slump, they picked the batting order out of a hat.
Howard Johnson, who normally bats cleanup, was the leadoff hitter. He came up in the right spot in the 12th inning and singled in the go-ahead run.
The Cubs had a chance to win in the ninth, but Kal Daniels, after getting a single in his debut, was out trying to score on Jose Vizcaino's double.