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ORTIZ LOOKS LIKE ALL-STAR
Russ-Ortiz-San-Francisco-Giants.jpg

Every year at the All-Star Game, some "new guy" has a coming out party that

makes fans sit up and take notice. Giants starter Russ Ortiz, whose slider seemed honed in on the outside corner like a heat-seeking missile, looks like one of those guys as he upped his record to 6-1 Saturday, defeating the Mets, 10-3.

 

"Its a little too early to talk about the All-Star Game," said Manager

Dusty Baker, "but hes been our main guy."

 

Ortiz pitched out of a jam in the sixth, when he displayed some control trouble, by striking out Alex Escobar swinging on a high, hard one to strand two. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter with the bases juiced in the bottom of that frame, having struck out seven, lowering his ERA to 2.77.

 

"Bobby <Estalella's> been doing a great job," said Ortiz of his catcher, who bailed him out in the first inning when Ortiz struck out Mike Piazza swinging, and Desi Relaford was thrown out stealing on the play. "That was big. For whatever reason, Ive pitched well <against the Mets>. I'm mature enough now to not think what might happen, but rather to make each pitch on its own. My sliders been working really well, and I have a lot of confidence."

 

Ortiz thinks the "new high strike zone" helps him.

 

"It helps everybody," he explained, "but my best pitches are still down in the zone anyway."

 

The two teams might have been groggy after playing extra-innings Friday  night, but on an afternoon in which the weather displayed dual personalities, San Francisco swung more lumber than Paul Bunyan.

 

Mets starter Dickey Gonzalez pitched around Barry Bonds in the first inning, and right into Jeff Kents wheelhouse. Kents searing line drive almost put a hole in the left-field fence, igniting a three-run inning.

 

Eric Davis, who holds his bat just like Bobby Bonds used to, was the pinch-hitter for Ortiz in the sixth. He struck out. What followed were two ground balls with eyes. Marvin Benard squibbed one foul, butgroundskeeper Scott MacVicar was earning his pay this day, because the ball hit the

lip of the chalk line and angled back into play. Aurilias grounder barelyescaped Robin Ventura's glove, and that sealed it. By the time San Francisco was finished with an assortment of safeties ranging from impressive to questionable, the score was 9-1.

 

Also bidding to come out at the All-Star Game, shortstop Rich Aurilia tagged a homer in the fifth to up San Franciscos lead to 5-1.

 

This was the first chance for Pac Bell fans to see the latest Japanese import, Mets outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo, swing the bat. Shinjo, a defensive replacement Friday night, subbed for Benny Agbayani in the third when Agbayani strained a lower abdominal muscle. Shinjo, whose bat held-high stance reminds one of Reggie Smith when he came up with the Red Sox, shot a line-drive down the left-field line that could have hung laundry, scoring Mike Piazza with a run in the fourth.

 

New York falls to 14-21, with first-place Philadelphia playing at Arizona on Saturday night. The Giants improved to 19-16, and entered the clubhouse hoping that Los Angeles, with Kevin Brown pitching, would lose to Atlanta later at Dodger Stadium. The sell-out crowd of 41,059 brings the season total to 852,409.

 

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