Giants celebrate NL West title win


NEW YORK, AP

The San Francisco Giants wrapped up the National League West title in the perfect place against the right opponent.

Buoyed by their flag-waving fans at Pacific Bell Park, the Giants clinched their second division title in four years by beating Arizona 8-7 Thursday night.

“This is just a stepping stone for us,” second baseman Jeff Kent said. “We’re going to be ready for the playoffs.”

The Giants, who have won 18 of 22 and have a major league-leading 54 home wins, celebrated their title by spraying their 77th sellout crowd of the season with champagne.

“We came back out in appreciation for the fans, who came out for us,” Barry Bonds said. “They’ve been great all season long, and we’re just glad we could give this to them.”

San Francisco, which opened the season 3-9 and trailed Arizona by nine games on May 28, pulled away from the NL West defending-champion Diamondbacks in the past month.

Arizona has lost six straight, dropping to 6-13 in September. The Diamondbacks fell six games behind the Mets in the wild card race.

“It’s never nice to be on the field for someone else’s celebration,” Arizona’s Luis Gonzalez said. “But we did it to them last year, and I’m sure they were excited to do that to us.”

Ellis Burks hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs for San Francisco, which twice overcame two-run deficits to eliminate the Diamondbacks, their last rival for the division title.

After Robb Nen retired Jay Bell on a game-ending flyout to center, the Giants poured out of the dugout to congratulate each other near the first base line while the crowd cheered and waved towels. The ballpark opened in April and has been sold out for every game.

“The whole thing was just magic,” manager Dusty Baker said. “This ballpark has been good to us. It didn’t start out that way, but it was damn good.”

Doug Henry (4-4) pitched two hitless innings for the victory. Nen pitched the ninth for his 39th save in 44 opportunities.

Phillies 6, Mets 5 Omar Daal avoided becoming the first 20 game loser since Brian Kingman in 1980 and host Philadelphia, after wasting a 5-1 lead, won on Pat Burrell’s bases-loaded single in the ninth off Rick White (2-3).

Burrell is 8-for-11 with 20 RBIs when batting with the bases loaded. Travis Lee hit his first homer as a Phillie, and Bobby Abreu also homered.

New York, which tied it in the ninth against Jeff Brantley (2-7) on a home run by Todd Zeile and a pinch RBI double by Robin Ventura, dropped 4 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East and is five games ahead of Los Angeles in the wild card race. Astros 7, Cardinals 5 A day after the Cardinals clinched the NL Central, rookie Tony McKnight (3-1) allowed two earned runs in 6 2-3 innings to lead visiting Houston.

Expos 10, Marlins 3 Vladimir Guerrero set a Montreal record with his 43rd home run and Orlando Cabrera matched his career high with five RBIs at Olympic Stadium.

Dustin Hermanson (12-14) scattered seven hits — including Derek Lee’s 26th homer — in his second complete game of the season.

Rockies 13, Padres 4 Kevin Jarvis (3-4), making his first start since July 27, gave up one hit in six innings and retired his final 18 batters at Coors Field.

Brewers 12, Pirates 2 Geoff Jenkins homered for the third straight game and Marquis Grissom went 4-for-4 with a home run at County Stadium.