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Updated: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 2:25 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
San Francisco Giants
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
10 10 0
Houston Astros
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
3 4 1
W Schmidt (17-5)
L Miller (14-13)
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SAN FRANCISCO 10, HOUSTON 3
 

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- If this was Jason Schmidt 's last start of the regular season, he left Cy Young Award voters with a favorable impression.

Schmidt carried a shutout into the seventh inning after Edgardo Alfonzo highlighted a 10-run second with his third career grand slam as the San Francisco Giants posted a 10-3 triumph over the Houston Astros .

The Giants' ace allowed a two-run homer by Jason Lane and just two other hits in seven innings. He walked just one and struck out only two but was extremely economical with his pitches after being staked to the big lead.

While Los Angeles' Eric Gagne is the favorite to capture postseason honors as the National League's top pitcher, Schmidt (17-5) is sure to earn strong consideration. The veteran righthander leads the major leagues in ERA and opponent's batting average and is among the top five in the league in wins, strikeouts, shutouts and complete games.

"(Schmidt) did a great job, as usual," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "He was very dominating. We wanted to take him out after the sixth inning, but he wanted to stay out there for another inning."

"When they score 10 runs for you, you've got a big smile on your face in the dugout, but you've got to go out there and it's a little scary," said Schmidt, who likely will start Game One of the Division Series for the defending National League champions. "You almost feel like you just have to show up, then you get out there and find yourself having a hard time throwing strikes."

The game was scoreless in the second when Marquis Grissom hit his 20th homer of the season and second in as many nights. Benito Santiago singled and took third on a base hit by Alfonzo. Jose Cruz 's ground-rule double made it 2-0 and Schmidt walked to load the bases.

Houston starter Wade Miller (14-13) temporarily halted the carnage by getting Ray Durham to bounce into a forceout at the plate. But J.T. Snow singled and Rich Aurilia walked for a four-run cushion. Barry Bonds grounded sharply to first baseman Jeff Bagwell , who fired home. But the throw was low, allowing Durham to score.

Miller got Grissom on a popout, but Santiago walked to force home a run and Ricky Stone came on in relief. Alfonzo crushed the reliever's second offering for his 12th homer of the season and a 10-0 led.

San Francisco sent 14 men to the plate in its most productive inning of the year and biggest outburst since scoring 11 in the sixth inning at Milwaukee on May 21, 2000.

"That was the game," Alou said. "(Miller) was unhittable in the first inning, but in the second he was wild. I don't know what happened. There were the walks and then the play at the plate (Bagwell's error). A lot of stuff can happen this time of the year."

Houston, which has dropped a season-high four straight games and fell one-game behind Central Division-leading Chicago, had not allowed 10 runs in an inning since giving up 14 in the first against Cincinnati on August 3, 1999.

"His command and control left him in the second inning," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "He was either too much in the strike zone or not enough in the strike zone. It started with (Grissom's) home run and it snowballed from there."

Miller was tagged for nine runs - four earned - and six hits. The veteran righthander had not allowed nine runs in a game since August 23, 2000 against Chicago, when he surrendered 12.

"It was a location problem," Miller said. "Every time I tried to go inside, I left it over the plate. It's not like I got hammered. It made for a long inning and I threw a lot of pitches. I felt strong in both the first and the second innings, but I didn't make the pitches I needed to make."

With the huge lead, Schmidt cruised, retiring 14 consecutive batters between the second and sixth innings. He allowed a leadoff double to Orlando Merced in the seventh and Lane hit his second homer of the season.

Schmidt quickly regrouped and got the next three batters in order.

"We're just trying to play the game, right now the game is playing us," Houston second baseman Jeff Kent said. "It's getting late for us to be losing games. It's not just one area, it's all areas. We need to turn this thing around. We've got to shut the door on them and we've got to score some runs."

"We're one game back, that's it," Bagwell said. "We've got to look at it that way. We have 25 guys in here who know how to win. We've got to win tomorrow and go from there. We've got to stay positive."

After Matt Herges threw a scoreless eighth for the Giants, Jason Christiansen gave up a two-out homer to Lane in the ninth.

It was Lane's first career multi-homer game.


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