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Giants' Faith in Rueter Rewarded

October 24, 2002|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — With the Angels rolling and time running out in the World Series, the San Francisco Giants leaned on their pitching staff Wednesday night.

Although they seemingly should have turned elsewhere for inspiration, considering the group's ineffectiveness against the Angels and what's at stake, the Giants stuck with the plan that got them this far and hoped for another boost.

The struggling staff provided one after a bumpy beginning Wednesday night, shutting down the Angels after the third inning in a 4-3 victory in Game 4 at Pacific Bell Park.

"Everyone on the staff did their job tonight," said Tim Worrell, who pitched a perfect eighth for the victory. "We know how good those guys are and how big this game was for us, and we take a lot of pride in coming up big for this team. We needed to get it done tonight and we did."

For a little while, it appeared they wouldn't.

A crowd of 42,703 watched the Angels jump to a 3-0 lead in the third against left-hander Kirk Rueter, following a disturbing pattern for the Giants and their fans. After all, Russ Ortiz and Livan Hernandez were chased early during Games 2 and 3. But Rueter changed course, holding the Angels scoreless in his final three innings, setting up his teammates to do the rest.

The Giants tied the score with a three-run fifth against Angel rookie right-hander John Lackey, and David Bell's run-scoring single in the eighth was enough to win with the bullpen rejuvenated by Rueter's timely effort.

Felix Rodriguez was perfect in the seventh and Worrell followed with a 1-2-3 eighth. Closer Robb Nen then finished the Angels, getting pinch-hitter Brad Fullmer on a game-ending double play after pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy singled with one out.

Nen, who also had a save in Game 1, earned his seventh save in nine postseason chances as the Giants evened the best-of-seven series.

San Francisco turns to Game 1 winner Jason Schmidt tonight in Game 5, hoping to hold a 3-2 edge when the Series returns to Edison Field for Game 6 on Saturday.

Everything turned around for the Giants because of the solid work by the pitching staff.

"We just kept telling ourselves we had to find a way to win, and we did that," catcher Benito Santiago said. "Now we've got our best pitcher going. We're hoping to go to Anaheim up."

Rueter helped make that a possibility.

His overall pitching line (six innings, nine hits and three runs) isn't impressive, but the nine-year veteran was strong after the third. The Angels only had two singles against Rueter during that span, and the Giants turned two double plays behind him.

"I got down, 3-0, I just told myself, 'I have to keep it right here; give my guys a chance,' " he said.

"They're an explosive team. They've proven that this series. They can score in a hurry."

Manager Dusty Baker was thinking similarly.

"You can't start thinking, 'Here we go again,' because it's going to happen again," he said. "You have to start thinking, 'This it the end of it. This is Kirk. That's all they're going to get.' And that's all they got.

"What can I say about Kirk other than we love having him on the mound.

"He keeps our defense sharp. He throws strikes. Kirk did an outstanding job. He gave us what we needed."

The bullpen in particular.

The Giants got only 5 1/3 innings combined from Ortiz and Hernandez in Games 2 and 3.

"I don't want to say we were spent," Worrell said, "but let's just say Kirk really gave us what we needed."

All the Giant pitchers did.

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