With help from Houston and Los Angeles, the San Francisco Giants climbed back into a tie for first place Thursday night, sending baseball's lone remaining race down to the final three days.
Billy Swift pitched seven strong innings and the Giants capitalized on two errors to down the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1. The victory left San Francisco and Atlanta tied with 101 victories in the NL West.The Braves lost 10-8 to the Astros earlier in the evening. San Francisco finishes with three games at Dodger Stadium and Atlanta ends with three games at home against Colorado.
"That was big," a smiling Swift (21-8) said after holding the Dodgers to one run on two hits and four walks, with four strikeouts.
"We knew Atlanta had lost and that we would be back up there if we won. We feel we have to win every game we play now. Tom Candiotti pitched well for the Dodgers and we were fortunate to be able to take advantage of their errors."
Rod Beck pitched 11/3 innings for his 46th save.
"We were watching the (Braves) game earlier and we have to thank the Astros for going down there and playing great baseball," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "That's what you need, some help from your friends. And now anybody playing the Braves is our friend."
Unwillingly, the Dodgers gave the Giants a boost, too, with the difference in the game two unearned runs in the fourth inning.
"Their defense helped us, and our great defense also helped us," Baker said after the resurgent Giants won for the eighth time in nine games.
Candiotti (8-10) gave up three runs, one earned, on six hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out six.
Shortstop Jose Offerman misplayed a routine grounder with two outs in the fourth, helping the Giants take a 2-0 lead.
Barry Bonds walked with one out and went to second on Willie McGee's groundout. Royce Clayton then grounded straight to Offerman, who bobbled the ball.
Kirt Manwaring hit an RBI single to right field and Cory Snyder, trying to cut down Clayton at third, threw into the Dodgers' dugout, allowing Clayton to score.
Matt Williams tripled with one out in the eighth inning and scored on McGee's infield single for a 3-1 lead.
"You know the Giants wanted to win in the worst way," Candiotti said. "It should probably have been a 0-0 game going into the sixth or seventh. It's very frustrating. I pitched well; the other guy just pitched better."
Dave Hansen's RBI single in the sixth, following walks to Brett Butler and Offerman, gave the Dodgers their only run. Until then, Los Angeles had not had a runner beyond first base.
San Francisco, which led the division alone from May 10 through Sept. 11 and held a 10-game lead over Atlanta on July 22, has come back strongly after an eight-game losing streak left them four games behind the Braves on Sept. 16. The Giants have won 12 of 14.
The Giants still face a formidable task since they finish against the Dodgers, who hold a 6-4 season edge over them. Atlanta is 10-0 against Colorado.