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Former Giants' left-hander Rueter retires

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kirk Rueter, the winningest left-hander in San Francisco Giants history, officially retired from baseball Monday, ending a 13-year major-league career that produced a 138-92 record.

Rueter posted 105 of those victories after joining the Giants near the end of the 1996 season, surpassing Mike McCormick last season as the winningest lefty since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. Rueter was 2-7 with a 5.95 ERA in 2005 and was designated for assignment Aug. 14.

"I'm officially done," Rueter, 35, said in a teleconference from his Nashville, Ill., home. "I was 99 percent sure, and I made up my mind last week. I'm a full-time husband and a full-time father now."

Rueter said he attempted to join the St. Louis Cardinals, his favorite team as a child, because he lives close to St. Louis. When that didn't materialize, he decided to focus on wife, Karla, and daughters, Hope and Halle.

"It was a great run," he said. "I love baseball. The Giants have been unbelievably good to me. I'm going to miss the fifth day, but I won't miss the road trips and being away from my family."

Rueter entered the majors with the Montreal Expos in 1993, and his 8-0 start was the best at the start of a career since Hooks Wiltse of the New York Giants went 12-0 in 1904. He posted seven consecutive winning seasons for San Francisco in 1997-2003.

"He didn't have one great pitch, but he got hitters out with intelligence and command," said Giants manager Felipe Alou, who had Rueter on his teams in Montreal and San Francisco.

Affectionately known as "Woody," Rueter was 13-6 with a 3.45 ERA for the division-champion Giants in 1997; was a career-best 16-9 in 1998; and had a 13-8 record and a 3.23 ERA for the 2002 pennant winners, adding a victory over St. Louis in the NLCS.

"That win and going to the World Series were highlights," Rueter said. "I started Game 4 in San Francisco. As a kid, everyone dreams of that.

"And I remember pitching the first game of a two-game sweep that caught the Dodgers in 1997. The atmosphere was electric at Candlestick Park," he said.

Rueter dismissed his somewhat acrimonious departure from the Giants last year as frustration over a losing season, explaining: "Everybody was going crazy ... down deep, I knew it was coming close to the end."

There are no hard feelings from the Giants, either. The club is planning a day in his honor this season, and general manager Brian Sabean thanked Rueter for his contributions toward the club's 1997-2004 success.

"When he went out to pitch, everyone felt it was a win day," Sabean said. "The guys liked playing behind him. His record is evidence that he had more talent than he was given credit for."