Work in Sports
Burks, Livan give S.F. Game 1 win over Mets
Hernandez held the Mets to five hits over 7 2/3 innings and Bonds fought back his playoff demons with an RBI triple and a key single as the San Francisco Giants beat New York 5-1 Wednesday in the opener of their NL division series.
Ellis Burks hit a three-run homer as the Giants gave both manager Dusty Baker and Pacific Bell Park their first postseason wins.
"Livan was the guy we thought he would be as a playoff starter ... and Barry was just Barry," Baker said. "None of that surprised me. We know what our guys can do."
The new park even played a role in the victory: Bonds' triple took a fortuitous bounce off a low wall in right, while Burks' homer hit the foul pole in left.
"When you see 41,000 people in the stadium, it's great," Hernandez said. "This is a great stadium. The fans here are very good, very loud."
Hernandez wasn't dominant, but he picked up where he left off in the postseason three years ago. Hernandez, the NLCS and World Series MVP in 1997 while leading the Florida Marlins to the title, retired the Mets' first seven hitters and pitched out of two jams, allowing his only run on a sacrifice fly in the third.
"He did what we thought he would do," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He used his changeup and breaking ball and slider when he got behind."
Hernandez improved to 5-0 lifetime in the postseason, the same mark as his older half-brother, Orlando, of the New York Yankees. On Monday night, with the Yankees in Oakland for the AL playoffs, Livan and El Duque got together for dinner.
"When you go to the playoffs, you've got to play hard," Hernandez said. "A lot of players play 15, 20 years waiting for this chance. When I go out, I say, 'I want to throw good, I want to win my game.'"
Robb Nen closed out the Mets in the ninth.
For Bonds, the three-time MVP whose career has been defined by regular-season prowess and postseason problems, his 2-for-3 performance was an early answer to his critics. He hit .200 in four previous trips to the playoffs, but he had the fourth multi-hit playoff game of his career.
Bonds' triple during San Francisco's four-run third inning ricocheted crazily off the wall in right, scoring Bill Mueller. After Jeff Kent walked, Burks hit a long drive to left that clanged off the pole.
Asked if he felt like Carlton Fisk, whose famous extra-inning homer down the line at Fenway Park won Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, Burks said: "Definitely. Everything but the body language."
Burks' homer, his first in postseason play since 1993, sent the Pac Bell crowd into a frenzy. He made a curtain call moments later.
"I've had a couple of big hits in my career here and there, but this was right up with them," Burks said.
It was the Giants' first playoff victory in eight seasons under Baker, twice the NL Manager of the Year. The Giants, whose 97 regular season victories were the most in baseball, won in their first postseason game at Pac Bell, which opened in April.
While all of the Giants' stars lived up to their billing, New York's most important players didn't.
Mets starter Mike Hampton, 9-0 previously against the Giants, couldn't get out of the sixth inning. He allowed six hits and five runs and walked three, and reliever Turk Wendell bailed him out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth with two strikeouts.
Alfonzo, Piazza and Ventura -- the Mets' 3-5 hitters -- went hitless in their first nine at-bats. Piazza, a career .211 hitter in the playoffs, was 0-for-3.
Bonds, who singled in the first inning, also had two hits in games 5 and 6 of the 1992 NL championship series and in Game 2 of the 1997 NL Division Series. He even stole second base after being walked in the seventh inning Wednesday.
The Mets' outfielders spent extra time Tuesday studying the eccentric dimensions of Pac Bell, but it didn't help right fielder Derek Bell. Bonds' triple caromed so sharply that Bell sprained his right ankle while trying to reverse direction.
He left the game for X-rays, which were negative. But Valentine said Bell, who was on crutches after the game, wouldn't play in Game 2 on Thursday night.
San Francisco scored first on Kent's RBI groundout after Bonds singled in the first inning. New York tied it up on Jay Payton's sacrifice fly in the third.
Notes: The national anthem was performed by an odd group: the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, opera singer Frederica Von Stade and Jerry Lawson of the Persuasions. ... Game 2 is Thursday night, with left-hander Al Leiter pitching for New York against Shawn Estes. After beating Hampton, the Giants have seven victories in their last eight games against left-handers. ... While trying to catch a pop foul in the second inning, Giants catcher Bobby Estalella went sprawling over a railing and onto a mesh net protecting photographers from foul balls. Estalella was not hurt.