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Brown Has No Margin for Errors

Starter isn't sharp, the Giants score two runs in the first with help from infield miscues and the Dodgers can never catch up in a crucial 6-4 loss.

September 20, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

Tormenting the Dodgers in September is especially fun for the San Francisco Giants, who delivered another blow to their longtime rivals' National League wild-card hopes Friday night in a 6-4 victory at Dodger Stadium.

The Giants served notice that they won't take it easy on the Dodgers despite having already wrapped up the NL West title, taking the first game of a three-game series amid playoff-type intensity before 51,612.

The Giants jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Kevin Brown as normally sure-handed middle infielders Cesar Izturis and Alex Cora committed errors on consecutive plays to start the game.

"We've had spectacular play from our infield all year," Manager Jim Tracy said. "But I think it's pretty clear we gave them five outs in the first inning."

Edgardo Alfonzo drove in three runs and Barry Bonds hit his 44th home run as the Giants (94-58) held on for their fifth victory in six games.

The third loss in four games for the Dodgers made their already difficult road to the postseason even rockier.

The Dodgers (81-71) dropped to three games behind Philadelphia, which moved into the wild-card lead Friday. They have only 10 games remaining and trail three teams for the playoff berth they targeted after flopping in the division before the All-Star break.

The Dodgers are still breathing -- but only barely.

"We're going to go out and give it our best shot, but we don't have much room for error," said Shawn Green, who went three for five with three runs batted in and matched the Los Angeles franchise record with his 47th double.

"We still can do it. If we win a couple and [Philadelphia] has a couple of losses in a row, all of a sudden things are totally different. It would obviously make it a lot easier if we could win these close games.

"We got behind early and kept coming back. But every time we came back, they kept putting another run on the board and kept pulling away from us."

Tracy's maneuvers reflected the desperation of the Dodgers' situation, as he used 15 position players and five pitchers in a 3-hour 10-minute game.

Leadoff batter Dave Roberts matched his career high with four hits to pace an 11-hit attack. Adrian Beltre hit his team-leading 21st homer and Green tied Wes Parker, who had 47 doubles in 1970.

Green, however, struck out on a check swing in the ninth with one out and Roberts on first after a leadoff single. Ron Coomer hit into a fielder's choice to end the game as San Francisco closer Tim Worrell nailed down his 36th save.

Brown (14-9) and his San Francisco counterpart, Dustin Hermanson (3-3), each lasted only five innings.

Brown was removed for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth, departing after a subpar performance. He gave up seven hits and five runs (three earned). He had five strikeouts and one walk.

In the first, shortstop Izturis mishandled Ray Durham's leadoff grounder, and second baseman Cora booted a potential double-play ball on Marquis Grissom's grounder. Both runners eventually scored.

"You can't put your ace in the situation that I put him today," Cora said. "You get a ground ball for a double play, you mess it up and it's 2-0. The score is 6-4, and you just have to look at the first inning.

"We messed it up."

Bonds homered on a 1-and-2 pitch in the seventh against Guillermo Mota, connecting for the 657th of his career.

He moved within three homers of his godfather, Willie Mays, for third place on the all-time list at 660.

"It was a changeup," Bonds said, "that stayed in the zone too long."

The Giants kept the heat on the Atlanta Braves for the NL's best record and home-field advantage in the playoffs, remaining a game behind the Braves.

"We feel no pressure," said Bonds, who is not expected to play Sunday in the final game of the series. "We just have to stay on course.

"You can't turn it on and off. We can't take it off now and then wait for the playoffs. It won't happen like that."

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