Braves, Giants reach final day neck and neck San Francisco survives scare from L.A., 5-3


LOS ANGELES -- Barry Bonds is not swinging for the fences here; he is swinging for the mountain ranges. The Los Angeles Dodgers finally wised up yesterday afternoon and intentionally walked him twice, but were done in by Dave Martinez.

Martinez -- a late substitute for the injured Willie McGee -- broke this tense game open with a two-run, seventh-inning double, later caught a swerving fly ball as Dodger Stadium fans tapped him on the shoulder, and the San Francisco Giants scraped together enough pitching to win, 5-3.

The Giants and the Atlanta Braves both own 103-58 records, and, with a lone regular-season game to play for each team -- with a possible playoff tomorrow night in San Francisco -- the National League West championship is on the ledge.

The meat of the Giants' batting order will attempt to rescue it. The Dodgers may have pitched around Bonds yesterday, but they challenged Will Clark and were no better for it. Clark had four hits yesterday, scored the winning run, and has eight hits in his last 10 at-bats.

"I told everyone to get a good night's sleep," manager Dusty Baker said.

But the Giants have no more 20-game winners available. The arms of Bill Swift (21-8) and John Burkett (22-7) are used up and in storage for next week, which leaves Baker with a pot-luck pitching staff.

Yesterday, he needed five pitchers and even summoned the bullpen closer, Rod Beck, for the eighth time in nine games.

With the Giants leading, 5-2, in the bottom of the eighth, Mike Jackson walked the bases loaded and then, unfathomably, walked in a run. Baker rubbed his eyes and telephoned Beck.

"Am I going to break Cal Ripken's consecutive game streak?" said Beck. "I don't think so."

The heavyset reliever escaped when pinch hitter Dave Hansen flew out to the deepest portion of right field. Martinez stared into the afternoon glare, caught the ball on the warning track, foiled a grand slam and noticed total strangers nestling up to him.

"I felt a couple of hands on me, patting me on the back as I caught it," Martinez said. "I think they need a higher gate."

For today, Baker named 21-year-old Salomon Torres as the starter.

Torres, who spent two-thirds of this season in Triple-A, lasted only two and one-third innings in his last start.

"But tomorrow's a staff day," Baker said. "He just throws the first pitch. Tomorrow, we have everybody available."

Meanwhile, Beck, who has a throbbing hip, soaked himself in ice cubes and told Baker he is available one more time.

"I'll pitch until I blow," he said.

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