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A couple of survivors

GIANTS 8, BRAVES 3: Livan Hernandez improves to 6-0 in the postseason as San Francisco forces a Game 5.

©Associated Press

October 7, 2002


GIANTS 8, BRAVES 3: Livan Hernandez improves to 6-0 in the postseason as San Francisco forces a Game 5.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Livan Hernandez boasted about his postseason perfection, then backed it up.

Hernandez won again in October and the Giants battered Tom Glavine for the second time to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-3 Sunday and even their NL division series at 2.

"I tried not to put pressure on," Hernandez said. "I knew it was a big game. I do it the same as I do every day. I came into the park and batting practice and relaxed, my mind relaxed. I did not want to make a lot of mistakes ... and I won again today."

Barry Bonds drove in the first run and the Giants led all the way, sending the teams back to Atlanta for a decisive Game 5 tonight. Buses to carry the clubs to the airport for cross-country flights were lined up before it ended.

Kevin Millwood, already waiting at home in Atlanta, will pitch for the Braves on three days' rest against a fully rested Russ Ortiz.

Handed a 7-0 lead, Hernandez, the 1997 NLCS and World Series MVP, improved to 6-0 in the postseason. Even after a 12-16 regular season, he was confident before his first outing of this series.

"I never lose in October," he said.

At least one team in the neighborhood still is alive. After Oakland was eliminated by Minnesota in the AL division series across San Francisco Bay, Hernandez gave fans plenty to cheer about.

The wild-card Giants won for the first time in six tries since the 1971 NL Championship Series when facing postseason elimination.

Hernandez carried a no-hit bid into the fifth, but Vinny Castilla hit a high popup that dropped between Hernandez, third baseman David Bell and shortstop Rich Aurilia for a single.

Bell charged in too far and the ball fell behind him. Keith Lockhart followed with another hit.

Hernandez allowed three runs and eight hits in 81/3 innings, striking out six. Giants manager Dusty Baker was booed when he lifted his starter, but Scott Eyre and Robb Nen finished up.

"We were trying to make him throw strikes," Braves manager Bobby Cox said of Hernandez. "The first inning we had three (hard-hit balls) at him, but we didn't do much after that. Livan's hard to hit. He comes with so many angles at you. He's sneaky quick."

Aurilia hit a three-run homer in the third, his third hit of the game, as the Giants found the offense that eluded them in the two previous games, both losses.

Aurilia's shot chased Glavine, who threw 68 pitches in 22/3 innings. At 12-15, he has the most losses in postseason history.

Hernandez pitched a 1-2-3 first and had the raucous Pacific Bell Park fans on their feet early, waving their white "Rally Rags."

"It's more difficult to be patient when you're down by seven runs, six runs," said Atlanta's Gary Sheffield, who went 0-for-4 and is batting .071 in the series.

"He wasn't really coming over the middle of the plate today. He was throwing eephus curveballs and eephus sliders, then he'd show a fastball, so it made it look a lot faster than it really was."

Sheffield said he'd never seen Hernandez throw those pitches.

"It kind of shocked me when they came out of his hand," he said.

Bonds hit a sacrifice fly and the Giants gave Hernandez a two-run cushion in the first, and they were on their way to an easy victory.

Glavine, making his 32nd postseason start, got in trouble in a hurry.

Trying to redeem himself after losing Game 1 at Turner Field, he loaded the bases with none out in the first on a walk to Jeff Kent, sending the fans into a frenzy. They chanted "Barry, Barry!" as the slugger came to bat.

Kenny Lofton scored on Bonds' fly to right-center, the first of his three runs scored. Benito Santiago followed with a run-scoring groundout to make it 2-0, and the Giants had equaled their total from their loss the day before.

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