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Giants finish off sweep of Braves thanks to Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds leaves the ballpark as quickly
as possible these days -- not because he doesn't love the game, but
because he has somewhere better to be.

And when the Atlanta Braves dared to throw a hittable pitch to
him in the 10th inning Thursday night, Bonds sent everybody home
for the second time in three dramatic nights.

Bonds hit his 652nd career homer on the first pitch he saw from
Trey Hodges, giving the San Francisco Giants a 4-3 victory Thursday
night and a three-game sweep of baseball's best team.

With his second extra-inning homer in three days, Bonds moved
within eight homers of his godfather, Willie Mays, for third place
on the career list. He's climbing the chart with a heavy heart
while spending most of his free time with his cancer-stricken
father, Bobby.

"I was just trying to hit the ball, but I've got to go
somewhere now," Bonds said as he left the clubhouse.

After Atlanta tied it with a stirring three-run rally in the
ninth, Bonds hit his major league-leading 39th homer when Hodges
(3-2) left a sinker within Bonds' reach despite his manager's
fervent instructions to the contrary.

The drive -- Bonds' 100th career homer at Pacific Bell Park --
landed in the center-field stands, and his teammates mobbed Bonds
at home plate, celebrating another victory in a thrilling series
between the NL's top two teams.

"Maybe there might be a league on another planet where he's
just another guy," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "It didn't
look too good for a while, but our big left fielder did it again."

Thanks to Bonds' heroics, the Giants got their third straight
one-run victory. Bonds beat the Braves 5-4 Tuesday night with a
similar shot, and he was part of the ninth-inning rally that ended
with Edgardo Alfonzo's game-winning single Wednesday night.

"I'm in shock," Hodges said. "I should have almost come to
expect it. I've seen some weird things the last three days. ...
It's happened before, it's going to happen again. The only thing
you can do is try to forget the whole thing."

Hodges' pitch was a sinker that sat at belt level -- a really bad
idea when Bonds is the hitter.

"We have a plan to pitch Bonds down," Atlanta manager Bobby
Cox said. "I don't know what happened. It wasn't supposed to be
anywhere near the plate. I don't know if it slipped out, or what.
When I saw where the pitch was going, I knew where it was going (to
end up)."

The Giants made late rallies to beat the Braves in the first two
games of the series, but Atlanta tied this one with a three-run
rally in the ninth.

Jason Schmidt left with a 3-0 lead after pitching eight innings
of three-hit ball, but Giants closer Tim Worrell wasted it all. He
allowed two hits, two walks and Vinny Castilla's tying sacrifice
fly.

Felix Rodriguez (7-2) pitched the 10th for the win.

Atlanta was swept for the first time since a season-opening
three-game series against Montreal. The Braves, who begin a
three-game series in Colorado on Friday, haven't lost more than
three straight all season.

"This is about as low as I've seen this clubhouse this year,
but we'll come out again tomorrow," said Robert Fick, who went
0-for-2 with two walks.

"I don't care if I ever see Barry Bonds again, because I don't
care what anybody says, that guy is the man. He's the best. I'm
just so impressed."

Alfonzo had an early two-run double for San Francisco. The
Giants swept the Braves for the first time since Sept. 10-12, 1990.

The Braves' first five hitters reached base in the ninth in a
rally aided by shortstop Rich Aurilia's fielding error. Andruw
Jones drove in two runs with a bases-loaded double down the
left-field line, and Castilla drove home Gary Sheffield on a
sacrifice fly to center.

Sheffield went 0-for-4 with a walk, ending his career-best
24-game hitting streak.

"You always know the Braves can come back, but we had Barry in
the back pocket," said Schmidt, who struck out seven and retired
17 of his last 19 hitters. "We know how good he is, and somebody
upstairs is letting him enjoy something extra special. It's unreal.
I'm really happy for him."

The Braves' powerful lineup was missing Chipper Jones and
All-Star catcher Javy Lopez. Chipper Jones was a last-minute
scratch after twisting his right knee in batting practice, while
Lopez is out until Saturday with a bruised left leg.

Bonds started San Francisco's rally in the fourth with a leadoff
walk. Andres Galarraga singled, and Alfonzo drove them home with a
double down the left-field line. The hefty 42-year-old Galarraga
motored home easily, drawing huge cheers from the sellout crowd.

Game notes
Hodges is the 385th pitcher to give up a homer to Bonds.
... Atlanta starter Horacio Ramirez swung at a pitch nearly over
his head while striking out in the sixth. Benito Santiago had to
leap out of his crouch to catch it. ... Darren Bragg took Chipper
Jones' place in left field, and Andruw Jones hit cleanup.