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Rocky Mountain low

Giants fall 9-8 after blowing 7-run lead

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Posted: Sunday September 27, 1998 08:56 PM

  Neifi Perez sent the Giants away with a loss after hitting a home run in the ninth inning off Giants closer Robb Nen AP

DENVER (AP) -- When Dusty Baker heard the result from Houston, he was elated. Less than a minute later, he was deflated.

Baker's Giants blew a seven-run lead and lost to the Colorado Rockies 9-8 Sunday, sending them to Chicago for a wild-card tiebreaker game against the Cubs on Monday night.

"There was a 30-second swing between them losing and us losing," Baker said. "We are happy going to Chicago. We could be going home to paint the garage.

Had the Giants held on to their lead, they would have headed to Atlanta as the NL's wild-card representative in the playoffs. But light-hitting Neifi Perez hit a leadoff homer off Robb Nen in the ninth, leaving the Giants and Cubs (89-73) tied for the wild-card lead after 162 games.

About a minute earlier, the Cubs lost 4-3 at Houston in the 11th inning, meaning a Giants win would have clinched the wild-card.

Baker heard that result from fans listening to radios in the stands behind the dugout and from players who were watching the Cubs-Astros game on television in the clubhouse. Almost immediately, Perez burst the balloon.

"I told you guys yesterday about my dream of a one-game playoff," Baker said. "I knew it would be Chicago. I wish my dream hadn't come true. I can't remember how the dream turned out."

Baker said the Giants, who had their six-game winning streak snapped, will have their "hottest pitcher going, Mark Gardner."

"We set our rotation for this in case there was a one-game playoff," Baker said. "They will have one of their best in [Steve] Trachsel going."

In the funereal Giants clubhouse, outfielder Joe Carter called the developments "an emotional high that turned into an emotional low."

"We have to forget about this one. The Cubs had lost hope, and 30 seconds later we lose a game to put Chicago back in," Carter said. "But a week ago, we were five back. If someone had told us then this would come down to a one-game playoff, us against the Cubs, we would have taken it."

San Francisco, which trailed the Cubs by five games with 10 days left in the season but closed with nine wins in 10 games, led the Rockies 7-6 in the seventh before Vinny Castilla hit a two-run homer off Julian Tavarez.

But the Giants came right back in the eighth and tied it on Jeff Kent's solo homer off Pedro Astacio.

Perez then hit his ninth homer, connecting on an 0-1 pitch from Nen (7-7).

One year after hitting .366 en route to the NL MVP award, Colorado's Larry Walker went 2-for-4 and won his first batting title with a .363 average, nine points ahead of New York's John Olerud.

Jerry Dipoto (3-4) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win. "Our guys refused to lose today," Colorado manager Don Baylor said. "We were not going to let the other team celebrate on our field. The unexpected guy ends up winning the ballgame. I just told him not to try to hit the ball out of the park, just get a base hit, get on for Walker. He didn't listen to me, as usual."

Trailing 7-0, Colorado scored six runs in the fifth. Perez hit a two-run triple and Larry Walker's RBI single chased starter Kirk Rueter. John Johnstone relieved and allowed a three-run homer to rookie Todd Helton, his 25th of the season.

San Francisco opened a three-run lead in the third inning against Jamey Wright on Barry Bonds' RBI double and a two-run homer by Carter, who is retiring after this season. It was Carter's seventh homer since joining the Giants on July 23 and the 396th of his career, leaving him 30th in major league history.

San Francisco sent nine men to the plate in the fifth and scored four runs for a 7-0 lead. Bonds led off with a triple and scored on Kent's double. Carter singled, and Kent scored on a fielder's choice grounder by J.T. Snow, chasing Wright. Carter then scored on another fielder's choice groundout, and Marvin Benard had an RBI single.

Notes: Monday's game, which starts at 8:07 p.m. EDT, will be televised by ESPN. ... Castilla's homer was his 46th, Kent's his 31st. ... After the scoreboard showed a replay of Carter's World Series-winning homer against Philadelphia in 1993, Rockies fans gave Carter a prolonged standing ovation when he came to the plate in the second inning. Carter raised his batting helmet in response. ... The Rockies drew 3,789,347, leading the majors in attendance for the sixth straight season. ... Dave Cilladi, the Rockies' head trainer during all six years of their existence, announced his resignation. Cilladi, who has spent 13 seasons in the majors, plans to leave baseball to devote more time to his family. ... Kent raised his RBIs total to 127, the most by a Giants second baseman. Rogers Hornsby had 125 in 1927. ... At the end of the game, the Rockies did their traditional tour of the field, throwing baseballs, caps and gloves into the stands to their cheering fans.  

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