Pinch-hitters secure title for Giants

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The Independent Online

San Francisco captured their second National League West title in four years with an 8-7 victory over Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night.

San Francisco captured their second National League West title in four years with an 8-7 victory over Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night.

The pinch-hitters (substitute batters) Russ Davis and Felipe Crespo drove in key runs at the bottom of the eighth inning. Davis's sacrifice fly broke a 6-6 deadlock and Crespo's single was an insurance run for the Giants, who secured the title in the fastest time since 1954, the year they last won the World Series.

The San Francisco closing pitcher Robb Nen, who had not allowed a run since 13 July, gave up a two-out RBI double to Danny Bautista at the start of the ninth inning. But he retired Jay Bell on a long fly ball to centre, sparking jubilation among the sell-out crowd.

"These guys won't let you down," said Dusty Baker, the Giants manager, after the game. "They come out, they work hard.

"I was so nervous for first at-bat that I had to go upstairs and just relax for the next at-bat." said Ellis Burks, who hit a two-run homer in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth and scored in the eighth for San Francisco. "But look at the excitement here. They're loving it."

It was fitting that San Francisco won the crucial game at Pacific Bell Park since they own baseball's best home record at 54-23 in their new stadium. Last year Arizona, the defending NL West champions, secured the pennant at the Giants' former home, Candlestick Park.

Doug Henry (4-4) pitched two hitless innings to win the clincher and a shaky Nen got his 39th save in 44 chances despite allowing a run for the first time in 27 outings. The loss went to the relief pitcher Mike Morgan, who gave up two runs and two hits.

Arizona have now lost six straight games, all but destroying their hopes for the post-season. The Diamondbacks are six games behind the Mets in the wild-card race but must leapfrog the Dodgers, who completed a three-game sweep of Arizona on Wednesday and are five behind New York.

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