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Thursday October 5, 2000

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Bonds, Hernandez shine in Giants' win

Headline Photo

By The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - Livan Hernandez was his usual postseason self. Barry Bonds was a different man.

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 yesterday 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. 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.

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.

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.

Hernandez struck out five and walked five, but he got into trouble in the eighth, allowing a single by Edgardo Alfonzo and walking Mike Piazza with one out.

After Robin Ventura moved the runners along with a groundout, Hernandez walked Todd Zeile. Baker brought in top setup man Felix Rodriguez, who struck out Darryl Hamilton amid raucous cheers.

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.

Burks' homer, his first in postseason play since 1993, sent the Pac Bell crowd into a frenzy. He made a curtain call moments later.

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 yesterday.

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.

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.