Work in Sports
SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- Livan Hernandez picked up right where he left off.
Hernandez, who was dominant in the 1997 postseason, allowed one run and five hits over 7 2/3 innings and Barry Bonds had two hits and a walk as the San Francisco Giants posted a 5-1 triumph over the New York Mets in Game One of their National League Division Series.
Hernandez (1-0) dominated the heart of the Mets' lineup before tiring in the eighth. The bulky 25-year-old righthander, who was the Most Valuable Player of the 1997 NL Championship Series and World Series while with the Florida Marlins, improved to 5-0 lifetime in the postseason.
"You play all year to reach the playoffs," Hernandez said. "A lot of players go 15-20 years to get here and don't ever make it. I wanted to make the most of my opportunities."
Hernandez threw 125 pitches, walking five and striking out five.
He left with the bases loaded in the eighth, but Felix Rodriguez -- making his first postseason appearance -- struck out Darryl Hamilton. Robb Nen, also a member of the 1997 Marlins, got the side in order in the ninth for his fifth postseason save.
Bonds, who entered with a .200 career postseason batting average, contributed to a run in the first with a single and tripled in a run in the third, breaking a 1-1 tie. Former Met Jeff Kent walked and Ellis Burks launched a three-run homer against the left-field foul pole off Mike Hampton (0-1).
"Barry has stepped it up for us a lot of days," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "Today, he was very focused, very determined, very poised. He came through for us early and that was big.
"I'm not surprised by Ellis' big hit. He's made his at bats count all year long, big time. Ellis may not be our Most Valuable Player, but he is definitely our Most Valuable Person."
It was only the second homer for Burks in 63 postseason at-bats.
"I felt a little like Carlton Fisk, just without the body language," Burks said. "It was a question of fair or foul, because I knew that ball had the distance. It was a big hit.
I've had some big ones here and there, but it's surely one of the top ones in my career."
Game Two is Thursday at 8:18 p.m. EDT.
Game One featured a number of trends. San Francisco had lost seven straight postseason games and won a playoff game for the first time since Game Five of the 1989 NLCS against Chicago.
Hampton had been 9-0 against San Francisco in his career but was winless with a 5.09 ERA in three postseason starts. Today, the lefthander was done in by Burks' homer, which capped a wild third inning.
Hampton got the first two batters in the third before Bill Mueller singled to left-center. After taking a very close 2-2 pitch, Bonds ripped a base hit down the right-field line.
The ball appeared headed for the corner as Mets right fielder Derek Bell went to chase it down. But it hit the corner of the stands and deflected away from Bell. As he changed direction, Bell pulled up with a sprained right ankle and Mueller scored without a throw.
After a lengthy delay to check on Bell, Kent walked on four pitches. Burks buried a 1-1 pitch off the pole for a 5-1 lead.
It was Burks' fourth homer in 43 career at-bats against Hampton.
"You could tell by the body language the infielders thought it was a strike," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said of the 2-2 pitch to Bonds. "It was a close pitch. That's baseball."
"In every game there is a close call or play that affects the game," Baker said. "Barry has a great eye at the plate. I also saw Hampton's body language and know he wanted that pitch.
Pitchers want most pitches, don't they? One call, one play. But it wasn't the whole ballgame."
Hampton allowed five runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out two. The bullpen tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings but the offense was unable to rally, although it had its chances.
Trailing 5-1, the Mets put two runners on in the fifth but Jay Payton and Edgardo Alfonzo flied out. With one out in the eighth, Alfonzo singled and Mike Piazza walked. Robin Ventura grounded to second and Kent bobbled the ball and lost a chance at a double play before firing to first in time to get the slow-footed Ventura.
Todd Zeile walked to bring the tying run to the plate and finish Hernandez. But Hamilton, who entered as Bell's replacement, was overmatched by Rodriguez.
"Felix Rodriguez got a good out," Valentine added. "He threw the ball hard and got a big out. Our guys got big outs too, but they already had a lead."
The Giants delighted the crowd attending the first playoff game at Pacific Bell Park by pushing across a run in the first inning. Mueller, who was just 2-for-10 against Hampton entering the game, doubled with one out and Bonds singled up the middle.
Kent followed with a chopper to shortstop for a 1-0 lead.
New York knotted the contest with a run in the top of the third on a sacrifice fly by Payton. But the Mets had two aboard when Alfonzo popped out.
The first five hitters in New York's lineup were 2-for-18.
Bell, who was dropped to the No. 7 spot in the lineup, is likely out until the weekend -- at the earliest.
"It's an injury that will keep him from playing, that's for sure," Valentine said. "It's wrapped up pretty good now and he has crutches. No way he'll play tomorrow, that's for sure."
"I was feeling Derek's pain, since I fell out there a while back and missed a few games with a sore knee," Burks said. "The delay didn't hurt me any. I knew what I had to do."