PITTSBURGH Backups deliver for San Francisco
The Giants were also spurred on by the return of Barry Bonds.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Their bullpen was depleted after playing 22 innings in 20 hours. The San Francisco Giants' bench, though, is as healthy and as productive as ever.
Even with team RBI leader J.T. Snow sitting out with a bruised right forearm and backups playing shortstop, center field and catcher, the Giants won yet another series by beating the Pirates 3-1 Thursday.
With Barry Bonds contributing two hits and an RBI after missing two games with a stiff neck, the Giants used a three-run third inning to improve to 17-4. It's the franchise's best start since 1938.
Snow said the Giants, unlike many teams, don't rely mostly on their starters for their run production. Andres Galarraga, filling in for Snow, finished off the big inning against Kris Benson (2-3) with a run-scoring single.
"The guys who play when the starters are out are doing a great job, and you don't always see that with a lot of clubs," Snow said. "You don't see guys contribute like our guys do."
Manager was confident
That's why manager Felipe Alou had a good feeling upon arriving at PNC Park, even though he knew his regulars and his bullpen would be tired following a 4-3, 13-inning comeback victory Wednesday night.
He had an even better feeling upon learning Bonds could play.
"I felt today we were going to win." Alou said. "For some reason, the first night here [Tuesday] I didn't have that winning feeling. Maybe it was the jet lag. But with Barry back, you could tell there was a different feeling in both dugouts."
The Pirates employed the usual shift against Bonds, with all the infielders expect the third baseman lined up to the right of second base. Bonds crossed them up by lining a pair of singles up the middle.
No wonder Benson (2-3) felt like he did his job against Bonds, but had only his third straight loss to show for it. Bonds is 8-for-14 with a homer against Benson.
"I got what I wanted, a couple of ground balls, but I didn't get the results I wanted," said Benson.
One bad inning
The difference between Benson and Giants starter Damian Moss (4-0) was one bad inning -- Benson had it, Moss didn't. Moss pitched seven shutout innings before giving way to Felix Rodriguez and Tim Worrell, who pitched an inning each.
"It's always important to get out of the gate strong," Moss said. "We're on a good roll and you always want to keep the momentum going."
Worrell got his seventh save in eight opportunities despite pinch-hitter Matt Stairs' RBI double in the ninth, the first run against the Giants' bullpen in nine innings over two games.
Unlike the hard throwers in the bullpen, Moss got his outs by changing speeds and fooling hitters. He has pitched 14 shutout innings in two career starts against Pittsburgh, which dropped its fifth straight series -- all by losing two of three.
"He only throws in the mid-80s, but he just baits you with those slow curve balls and changeups," Jack Wilson said. "You think you're going to get hits off him, and you end up hitting a lot of weak ground balls. He's a frustrating guy to hit against."