ESPN.com - MLB Playoffs 2002 - Kent hits two homers in possible sendoff
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Thursday, October 24
Updated: October 25, 3:07 AM ET
 
Kent hits two homers in possible sendoff

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- If this was Jeff Kent's farewell to San Francisco, he'll be remembered by Bay Area fans for years to come.

Four!
Players who scored four runs in a World Series game:

Babe Ruth, Yankees, 1926
Earle Combs, Yankees, 1932
Frank Crosetti, Yankees, 1936
Enos Slaughter, Cardinals, 1946
Reggie Jackson, Yankees, 1977
Kirby Puckett, Twins, 1987
Carney Lansford, A's, 1989
Lenny Dykstra, Phillies, 1993
Jeff Kent, Giants, 2002

Kent hit a pair of late-inning, two-run homers in Game 5 of the World Series on Thursday night, breaking open a tense contest with the power he had barely shown during the postseason.

Kent, a free agent following the season, scored four runs -- becoming the first Giants player to do it in a Series game -- and also doubled. Backed by Kent's big game and Benito Santiago's timely hits, the Giants beat Anaheim 16-4, moving within one victory of their first World Series championship since 1954.

What's more, Kent even cracked a smile after his second homer put the Giants well ahead -- a surprise for the stone-faced star whose outstanding, six-season tenure in San Francisco might be nearing an end.

"I have to admit that's probably the first time I've done that,'' Kent said of his grin. "You know in that situation we've got a good enough bullpen to finally overcome the runs. I felt that that was good enough to win the ballgame.''

While leaving the field at Pacific Bell Park, Kent allowed himself a moment to reflect on the biggest game of his career in San Francisco -- but only a moment.

Kent
Kent

"There might be a little bit of sadness because it might be my last game here, but I'm thinking beyond that,'' Kent said. "I have enough respect for this Series and enough respect for the Angels to know that this doesn't mean squat. The next two games are going to be the biggest games we've ever played.''

For the first time in his first World Series, Kent made a big contribution to the Giants' attack. Finally excelling on the stage he waited 11 major league seasons to reach, Kent had the first two-homer game in the World Series by a Giants player since Benny Kauff in Game 4 of the 1917 Series against the White Sox.

No player had scored four runs in a Series game since Lenny Dykstra did it for Philadelphia in 1993.

Kent -- the NL MVP in 2000 -- isn't expected to return to San Francisco unless no other big-money offers are made for the power-hitting second baseman. Kent admitted to thinking about the possibility, and he even thought about manager Dusty Baker, who's also a good bet to leave the Giants this winter.

"I don't think there's a better way we could potentially end our careers here, if it is that,'' Kent said.

The Giants say they can't afford what Kent will probably command, and Kent has criticized Pac Bell for its unfriendliness to hitters. That'll be a difficult argument to accept after what Kent did in the biggest game in the park's three-year history.

"You just knew he was going to bust out,'' San Francisco right-hander Jason Schmidt said. "It was just a matter of time. You can't keep a guy like him down. He knew what the stakes were tonight.''

Kent went 3-for-16 (.188) in the first four games of the Series, striking out five times and often looking terrible while doing so -- but he carried his own weight in Game 5.

In the first inning, he drew a walk and scored on Santiago's sacrifice fly. In the second, Kent doubled to right and scored on Santiago's single.

With the Giants clinging to a 6-4 lead in the sixth, Kent launched a pitch from Angels reliever Ben Weber into left field, where a San Francisco fan gloved it cleanly in the front row of the bleachers.

One inning later, Kent hit Scot Shields' seventh pitch high and deep into the bank of temporary press seating in left field -- a fitting destination for a ball hit by Kent, who has a notoriously short temper with the media. Reporters scattered as the ball landed.

Coming around first base, Kent cracked a smile.

It was the 46th multihomer game in World Series history. Kent became the ninth player to score four runs in a Series game.

He even fielded the final grounder of the game, casually throwing to first base moments before fireworks exploded.

"The World Series is bigger and better than anything that free agency could bring,'' Kent said. "You'd like to think you have many opportunities to get to the World Series, but as you get older, you start to wonder if it's ever going to happen to you.

"Maybe that makes this night even better.''





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Benito Santiago talks to ESPN's Dan Shulman about Jeff Kent's Game 5 heroics.
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