SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants desperately needed a victory to buoy their spirits, but while they rode J.T. Snow's super offensive night for a 6-5 win over San Diego on Tuesday night at SBC Park, there was considerable bad news. Armando Benitez, a bear of a man who was to lift San Francisco's closer role to a high level after it struggled last season, suffered a right hamstring strain while running to first on the last out of the game. This could leave the bullpen in turmoil.
"We won't really know too much more tonight," said Giants trainer Stan Conte, explaining Benitez will undergo an MRI exam Wednesday morning to determine the extent of muscle damage. The veteran pitcher hopped on the bag in pain as Snow grabbed a Geoff Blum grounder and tossed it to Benitez, who hustled over to cover first. Benitez was carried off the field and had to be taken upstairs to the Giants clubhouse by a lift. "It could be as little as a couple of days, but with a hamstring that's significant enough to have to be carried off, it could be a couple of weeks," said Conte. "It's real hard to speculate at this point. "He's never had a problem with his hamstring before, but it's pretty significant and we'll have to take a look at it," added Conte, indicating there's a wide range. "They're hard to predict, and we don't want to get ahead of ourselves." Manager Felipe Alou was fairly testy after the game, not wanting to hear its negative aspects. He did win his 200th game as the San Francisco skipper, but somehow even that seemed not to matter. "I don't want to dwell on the [bad stuff], for a change," he said. "There's plenty of it around. It hasn't been pretty here and I tried to keep my cool, but ... I've been doing whatever has been necessary to get things going, changing lineups, not playing some guys." Alou says it's not only the position guys who may see dramatic changes, but the bullpen as well, especially in the wake of Benitez's injury and the possible need for another closer. "I gotta do something else," said Alou. It seems doubtful the Giants would bring up a game-finisher from the Triple-A Fresno crew of mostly youngsters. Another reliever is necessary, but a temporary closer from the current bullpen seems vital. Scott Eyre? Matt Herges, who did it the first half of last season? Reliable Jim Brower or ageless Jeff Fassero? Alou has to discuss the situation with Giants brass Wednesday. The good news is veteran reliever Al Levine joined the club when starter Jerome Williams was sent to Triple-A on Tuesday. Almost lost in the wake of Benitez's hamstring strain was the Giants' win, stopping a two-game losing streak and giving the team a smidgen of optimism amidst this slow start. Snow matched his career high by going 4-for-5 with the game-winning single, two doubles and a triple, raising his average to .365 and giving him eight hits in his last 23 at-bats. "It's pretty big," said Snow of the victory. "Maybe now we can start winning games. We need to play better, but this is a start. We don't need to be concerned about individual things right now, we need to get the team on a roll." Another positive was seeing rookie Jason Ellison smack a single in the bottom of the eighth, stealing second then scoring on Snow's hit off losing pitcher Akinori Otsuka. "My mindset was to just be aggressive and if they're going to give me a chance to take the bag, I'll take it," said Ellison. "I definitely felt comfortable out there and just let it happen. "That was a huge win," he added. "We've been scuffling a little bit and to get that was a good start." Giants starter Jason Schmidt battled through 6 2/3 tough frames, never really getting his fastball in a groove. "I had to pitch tonight more than anything," said Schmidt. "I had to really mix it up from both sides of the plate with breaking balls, changeups, try a little something different. It does make it interesting." Third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo suffered a tight left hamstring Tuesday night but was expected to be available for Wednesday's afternoon game.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.