SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- John Smoltz was reminded that he can never
get too comfortable as a closer.
height=90 align=right alt="Mark DeRosa">
height=90 align=right alt="Chipper Jones">
The San Francisco Giants scored three runs in the ninth inning
Thursday to close the gap, but the Atlanta Braves held on for a 5-4
victory on Thursday.
three-run double in the eighth inning to put Atlanta on top 5-1.
But Smoltz, pitching the ninth even though it wasn't a save
situation, allowed a three-run homer to Benito Santiago with one
out. The Giants put two runners on before Smoltz struck out David
Bell and Marvin Benard to end it.
"I don't have this thing licked at all,"' Smoltz said. "I
might say I have it licked, but then something comes back to put me
in my place."
The Braves won two straight to split their four-game series
against the Giants and move back to .500 at 21-21.
"They're all big for us," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.
"We've been losing too many games that we should have won."
eighth and was replaced by pinch runner Marcus Giles. After Giles
stole second, Rafael Furcal walked and DeRosa singled up the middle
off Felix Rodriguez.
Gary Sheffield walked to load the bases before Jones his
bases-clearing double to the right-field wall.
Atlanta starter Jason Marquis (3-2) had another strong outing
coming off a 6-1 victory over the Padres on Saturday, his first
start since a stint on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis.
He allowed one run and four hits in seven innings with six
strikeouts and one walk.
"I felt great," Marquis said. "I got in a groove and was able
to locate my fastball -- which is the key to my game."
Schmidt earned his first decision since coming off the disabled
list. The right-hander missed the first three weeks of the season
with a strained right groin.
He went 7 2-3 innings against his former team, allowing three
runs and three hits with eight strikeouts and two walks.
"If I had to do it over again, I'd have just tried to get those
last couple of outs rather than strike them out. Those walks (in
the eighth inning) killed me," Schmidt said.
Sheffield homered in the fourth inning off Schmidt to give the
Braves a 1-0 lead. Barry Bonds simply watched as the shot went deep
into the left-field bleachers.
Bonds doubled to start off the bottom half, but couldn't get any
farther as Marquis retired the next three batters.
Bonds, who hit a record 73 homers last season, has 13 home runs
so far this year, bringing his career total to 580. The NL MVP
needs three more to match Mark McGwire in fifth on the career list.
The Giants tied it in the fifth. Tsuyoshi Shinjo reached on
DeRosa's throwing error at shortstop, went to second on Schmidt's
sacrifice bunt, then scored on Benard's single.
After Ramon Martinez singled in the sixth, Bonds hit a fly to
the deepest part of the park, the 421-foot marker in right-center.
But it fell just inside the wall and Sheffield snagged it.
Giants manager Dusty Baker gave shortstop Rich Aurilia and
outfielder Reggie Sanders the day off to rest. Both were expected
back in the lineup Friday for the start of a weekend series against
Schmidt switched back to No. 29 after making his first four
starts wearing No. 22. He wore No. 29 after being traded to San
Francisco last season. ... Bonds' double in the fourth gave him
267, tying him with G.J. Berns on the franchise list. ... Bonds,
who was 3-for-4 with two homers in his career against Marquis
coming in, went 1-for-2 with a walk against the right-hander. ...
Bonds walked twice, giving a major league-leading 53 this season.
... It was the first split for the Giants this season. ... Chipper
Jones is now batting .424 (14-for-33) with runners in scoring