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WILLIAMS’ HR HELPS SAN FRANCISCO NIP CHICAGO, 6-4
GIANTS JUST A GAME AWAY FROM A BAY AREA SERIES

SHARE WILLIAMS’ HR HELPS SAN FRANCISCO NIP CHICAGO, 6-4
GIANTS JUST A GAME AWAY FROM A BAY AREA SERIES

The latest Chicago Cub to be fitted with a mantle of failure stood in front of his locker with head down and lower lip trembling.

"There's been a lot of times I've lost important battles," Steve Wilson said slowly, "but never something so important, never something with so much on the line."His eyes grew red and his mouth tightened and, in front of reporters and teammates, the rookie pitcher began to cry.

And so another October has brought another Cub team to the verge of despair, this time at the hands of the San Francisco Giants. They grabbed the Cubs by the scruff of their sorry history and shook them nearly into next season Sunday night, using Matt Williams' two-run home run off Wilson in the fifth inning to take a 6-4 victory in Game 4 of the National League championship series.

The Giants hold a three-games-to-one series lead and will have three chances to advance to their first World Series since 1962, the first coming Monday afternoon in Game 5 at Candlestick Park. Waiting for the National League's best is the American League champion Oakland Athletics.

If the Giants are their opponents, it will be the first all-Bay Area series ever.

"But we still aren't thinking about Oakland," Giant first baseman Will Clark said with a smile. "We're thinking only about Chicago . . . until at least tomorrow."

Fittingly, the only thing standing between the Cubs and a wake-up call on this dream season will be Monday's starting pitcher Mike Bielecki, who said that he was so nervous in his first playoff start in Game 2 last week, he nearly choked.

"I didn't think it would be that bad," said Bielecki, who will face Giant veteran Rick Reuschel. "But when I got out there, I found my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth."

His teammates know the feeling. In front of a second consecutive record Candlestick crowd of 62,078, the Giants did more than just beat them with Williams' homer, which gave him four runs batted in for the game and an National League Championship Series-record nine RBI for the series. Before and afterward, they tortured them into wondering what they were doing in this series in the first place.

"Team of destiny, my butt," Cub reliever Mitch Williams growled. "Destiny ain't going to win this thing for us now."

For example:

In the first inning the Giants tackled their way into a run when a limping Clark broke up a double-play grounder. In the third, they pushed across two runs when Clark sneaked home while the Cubs backs were turned

In the fourth, they rattled Chicago starter Greg Maddux into two terrible throws in the course of three pitches, bringing home another run.

Then they won it in the fifth when, in the best at-bat of a series full, Williams battled Wilson through 12 pitches, including six two-strike foul balls, before finally lining a full-count fastball 350 feet into the left field stands.

At the time, Clark was standing on second base after a double. Williams could have easily been walked and the left-handed Wilson might have done better with the next two hitters, since both Terry Kennedy and Pat Sheridan bat left-handed.

"I know, I could have walked him, but sometimes, you get caught up in the confrontation," Wilson said softly. "It's your best against his best, and you want to put that fastball right past him."