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October 03, 2002

Bonds seeking elusive ring
By Rob Dibble

ATLANTA -- There are a lot of great stories in this Atlanta Braves-San Francisco Giants National League Division Series.

In his fifth playoff appearance, Barry Bonds is still in search of the one accolade that has eluded him throughout his career -- a world championship. Despite his record-setting production -- including 600-plus home runs, a 73 home-run season, eight Gold Gloves and nearly 500 stolen bases -- what Bonds wants most is a World Series ring. And after an 8-5 Game 1 victory, he's one step closer.

Manager Dusty Baker made the right move in starting Russ Ortiz in Game 1. Ortiz has been awesome on the road (9-6) and pitched seven strong innings, allowed only five hits and two runs. Benito Santiago (3-for-5, one run, two RBI) and David Bell (2-for-4, one run, one RBI) both had stellar games.

Baker, who's in the final year of his contract with San Francisco, knows there are some good jobs up for grabs right now and he's hoping to add a world championship to his resumé.

In 11 straight divisional title seasons, the Braves have won the World Series only once (1995). And with Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux both free agents at the end of the season, this may be the last time we see the nucleus of this Atlanta team together.

I'm looking forward to Kevin Millwood facing Kirk Reuter in Game 2. Like Ortiz, Reuter has been great on the road this season. Baker is saving Jason Schmidt for Game 3 at Pac Bell because he's a better pitcher at home. And Maddux is being pushed back because of a blister on his index finger.

One thing that really surprised me was the lack of fan support at Turner Field for Game 1. The stands seemed empty, which is too bad. Hopefully, more fans will be coming out for Game 2.

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Russ Ortiz talks to ESPN's Brian Kenny about his first postseason victory.
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Dusty Baker was glad to get the first win of the series in Atlanta.
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