Giants Clinch NL West Title

Friday, September 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Giants clinched their second NL West title in four years, getting a go-ahead sacrifice fly from Russ Davis in the eighth inning Thursday night to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-7.

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.

The Giants (92-60) have won 18 of 22 to forge the best record in the major leagues and the best home record at 54-23.

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 games, dropping to 6-13 in September to put manager Buck Showalter's job in jeopardy.

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

Arizona's players sat silently on their dugout bench.

San Francisco will open the playoffs Oct. 2 or 3 against a team to be determined. The Giants haven't won a World Series title since 1954, when they played in New York's Polo Grounds.

Doug Henry (4-4) pitched two hitless innings for the victory. Nen pitched the ninth for his 39th save in 44 opportunities but allowed a run for the first time since July 13.

Pinch-hitter Tony Womack led off the ninth with a single, and Danny Bautista brought him home with a two-out double off the wall in right. But Bell's long fly to center was caught by Marvin Benard, and catcher Bobby Estalella grabbed Nen in a triumphant hug as fireworks and water cannons exploded in right field.

Nen has converted 26 straight save chances and hadn't allowed a run in his previous 27 appearances, a span of 26 1-3 innings.

With the score 6-all, J.T. Snow led off the eighth with a double against Mike Morgan (5-4) and Burks reached first with an infield single. One out later, pinch-hitter Davis' fly to deep center scored Snow and touched off a celebration in the stands.

Burks then scored on Felipe Crespo's infield single against Dan Plesac to make it 8-6.

Burks and Doug Mirabelli had RBI singles that tied the game at 6 in the sixth.

Damian Miller had a two-run double and Bautista had a two-run triple for the Diamondbacks, who were shut out in their previous two games but scored six runs against Giants starter Kirk Rueter.

Bautista's two-run triple in the third was Arizona's first hit against Rueter. It also snapped a franchise-record scoreless streak of 21 1-3 innings for the Diamondbacks.

Arizona starter Todd Stottlemyre allowed four runs, including Burks' homer in the fourth, and left after the fourth. He strained his right hamstring on a pitch to Snow, and though he finished the inning, Greg Swindell came in to start the fifth.

After his sixth-inning double, Miller left for a pinch-runner, and the team said he sprained his right foot on his first at-bat.

Jeff Kent's double in the first inning scored Barry Bonds from first base and gave Kent 125 RBIs, three shy of his career high, set in 1998.

Notes: Burks received the Giants' Willie Mac award as San Francisco's most inspirational player. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey presented the award. ... The start was briefly delayed for a three-song concert by the Baha Men, the musical group behind the current sports stadium hit ``Who Let the Dogs Out?'' Players from both teams stood bemusedly in their dugouts watching the performance by the nine-member band in the infield, six of whom wore Giants jerseys.