Friday, October 25, 2002

Giants take 3-2 Series lead



By MIKE LOPRESTI
Gannett News Service

SAN FRANCISCO - Paging the Rally Monkey. But can he pitch?

Back down the California coast this flip-flopping World Series goes, having done a U-turn the past two days. San Francisco is in front and Anaheim is in trouble, behind 3-2 after the Giants' 16-4 pounding Thursday night, the Angels' one solace that nothing in this duel has stayed the same for long.

The Giants moved to the edge of their first championship in 48 years, scoring the most runs in a World Series since the Yankees had 16 in Game 2 in 1960, pushed there by two Jeff Kent home runs and another by Rich Aurilia in a romp that began to tilt their way nearly as soon as it began.

"This is the way we'd like to go down to Anaheim," said manager Dusty Baker of Game 6 there Saturday night. "It feels pretty good. But the last game is always the toughest, especially in their house."

But they are close, especially given the magnitude of Thursday's bashing

"It was a whipping," said Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia, "You can't put it any other way."

But it was Barry Bonds, with only one RBI of the 16 runs, on a night he played more the supporting role, who cautioned, "I won't feel anything until it's over. I want to do my talking on the field. That's where it counts and that's where it matters."

A 6-0 lead after two innings became a nervous 6-4 game for the Giants in the sixth.

But then Kent - the former dud of October - blew a Ben Weber pitch into the left field stands for a two-run homer, and Kenny Lofton tripled in two more in the seventh, and Kent added another two-run blast. And the last game of the season at Pac Bell Park had become a rout.

Even more so in the eighth on Aurilia's three-run shot.

"It was more than just Barry, obviously," Scioscia said.

Kent came in with a .188 batting average for the Series and only three RBI for the entire postseason. He had been a disappointment as the No. 3 hitter.

But not anymore.

"I finally feel I'm part of this thing," Kent said. "I feel much better about myself right now."

"We knew it was just a matter of time before he got some big hits for us," said J.T. Snow. "We have different guys come through at different times. That's the sign of a great team."

Now the shell-shocked Angels must turn to the noise and comforts of home - with its thunder sticks and rally primate - needing survival in Game 6 Saturday night.

Things have changed.

It is the Giants now who are batting around to get the early lead, piling run upon run, and then adding the aftershocks to eat at Anaheim's confidence and pitching staff.

It is the Angels now who are searching, trying to find a way not to be outgunned, with their arms starting to show fatigue and their bats a hint of desperation.

"I think we have enough gas in our tanks to do what we need to do," Scioscia said of his pitchers before the game.

But his starters have an earned run average over 9 in this Series, and his bullpen is weakening.

Since the fifth inning of Game 4, when they led 3-0, they have been outscored, 20-4.

It hardly looks like the same World Series of just this past Tuesday, when Anaheim had scored 21 runs in two games to storm to a 2-1 lead.

But then again, the Giants won the opener in a well-pitched show and promptly leaked Anaheim runs the next two games. There is an unstable element to this Series.

"They've drained us," Bonds said. "And I'm pretty sure we've drained them."

Thursday, San Francisco had six runs in the first two innings against 18-game winner Jarrod Washburn, three driven in by Benito Santiago.

The Giants scored three runs in the first inning when Washburn walked four batters -- none named Bonds. Then scored three more in the second.

The Angels were having an awful time of it, including the continuing dilemma of what to do with Bonds.

When they challenged him in the first inning with runners on first and second, he lined a double into the right field corner for the first run, one of his two doubles for the night.

When they walked him with runners at second and third to load the bases in the second inning, Santiago lashed a two-run hit up the middle.

Washburn needed 34 pitches to get through the first, an omen for the Anaheim misery to come. He walked in one run.

"I'm disgusted," he said. "I let the team down."

Jason Schmidt took the 6-0 lead and sailed into the fifth, but the Angels would not stay quiet forever.

The Angels scored three runs, and nearly another when Troy Glaus' RBI double was four feet short of going out.

But it was 6-3, and a game again. The Angels added another in the sixth. Hard to imagine now, this game being in question.

It was the most runs the Giants had ever scored in a World Series game, tied for the second most by any team ever. They'll go for more history Saturday. The Angels will look for salvation, and anyone with a live arm.



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