Braves earn split with Giants in San Francisco

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.

Mark DeRosa hit a tiebreaking single and Chipper Jones added a

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."

Javy Lopez was walked by Jason Schmidt (0-1) with one out in the

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


Game notes
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