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NL: Giants win on final swing again

©Associated Press

September 8, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO -- At 37, Benito Santiago still feels fit enough to catch 18 innings, and he still craves being in the batter's box in a close game.

SAN FRANCISCO -- At 37, Benito Santiago still feels fit enough to catch 18 innings, and he still craves being in the batter's box in a close game.

Thanks to his timely hitting, there were no extra innings necessary Saturday. Santiago hit a winning single and the Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth for the second straight game, 4-3.

"I always love situations like that," said Santiago, who drove in three. "Since I started playing in this league I've liked those opportunities."

San Francisco won for the 10th time in 13 games and moved within two of the Dodgers in the wild-card race. The Giants are 6 1/2 behind Arizona in the West.

Jeff Kent led off the ninth with a single against Byung-Hyun Kim and advanced to second on Barry Bonds' groundout.

Santiago followed with a single to rightfield and Kent scored without a play. Santiago threw his arms in the air as he approached first.

"We have to work hard for all of them," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "This year's been a grind."

The Giants beat the Diamondbacks 1-0 Friday night on Reggie Sanders' single.

"Once again it comes down to the last guy," Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said. "We were hoping for a little bit more today. They're a tough ballclub. They really ride the emotions of their fans, they almost feed off of them. Once that gets going, they seem to slow down the game and disrupt the pace. They respond very well to that.

"They will haunt you, and they did tonight."

Felix Rodriguez pitched the ninth for the win, getting help from a spectacular catch by Sanders in rightfield.

BRAVES 4, EXPOS 0: Andruw Jones hit two two-run homers before being beaned, and Greg Maddux helped host Atlanta to its third straight shutout.

Jones was replaced by a pinch-runner.

The Braves' magic number for clinching the East is two. Montreal has lost nine of 13.

Maddux labored through five but didn't allow any runs on seven hits and four walks. It was his 270th career victory, tying Burleigh Grimes for 30th all-time.

ASTROS 6, DODGERS 1: Mark Loretta went 4-for-5, Jeff Bagwell homered and Gregg Zaun had two run-scoring singles, helping visiting Houston hand Los Angeles its sixth loss in 22 games to pull within 7 1/2 of the Dodgers in the wild-card race.

Rookie Carlos Hernandez allowed a run and four hits in seven innings, matching his longest outing in 23 career starts. The left-hander, making his fifth start after spending more than six weeks on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, struck out four and walked three.

Omar Daal lost for the first time in five decisions, allowing four runs and nine hits over 4 2/3 innings.

CARDINALS 6, CUBS 5 (13): Pinch-hitter Ivan Cruz singled off Antonio Alfonseca with two outs in the bottom of 13th to drive in Edgar Renteria as St. Louis won its fourth in a row.

The Cardinals moved a season-best 19 games above .500 and retained a 5 1/2-game lead on Houston in the Central.

METS 5, PHILLIES 4: Tyler Walker got his first major-league victory and Armando Benitez barely hung on as visiting New York won its fifth in a row.

The Mets took a 5-3 lead into the ninth, but Benitez began the inning by walking Tomas Perez and Jeremy Giambi. After a sacrifice bunt, Bobby Abreu walked to load the bases.

Benitez walked Pat Burrell on four pitches, forcing in a run. He escaped by striking out Travis Lee and retiring Mike Lieberthal on a comebacker.

PIRATES 4, MARLINS 1: Josh Fogg pitched six scoreless innings, Brian Giles and Aramis Ramirez homered and Mike Williams got his 40th save for host Pittsburgh.

ROCKIES 5, PADRES 3: Jay Payton's two-run double keyed a four-run rally against four relievers in the eighth as Colorado won its third in a row and sent San Diego to its third straight loss.

BREWERS 9, REDS 6: Richie Sexson doubled three times and drove in five to lead host Milwaukee, which pounded Shawn Estes for five runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings.

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