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Hennessey falls into history08/07/2004 7:48 PM ET
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was a difficult situation for a kid to be baptized by fire in a whole new competitive world, but there was a smile on Giants rookie Brad Hennessey's face even in defeat.
Here the 24-year-old rookie pitcher was on Saturday in his Major League debut at SBC Park, thrown into a media spotlight before the biggest crowd he's seen in baseball, against the Chicago Cubs and legendary Greg Maddux seeking his 300th lifetime win.
And Hennessey had nary a one. Like a kid with a pop gun facing a veteran gunslinger.
Funny thing, though. Hennessey and the Giants lost, 8-4, and Maddux at 38 earned his coveted victory, becoming only the 22nd pitcher to achieve that fabled number, yet the San Francisco kid took the atmosphere and tension and loss, and turned it into a positive experience.
Pretty cool guy.
"I was hoping it would be me, to get the call," said Hennessey, who heard the news he'd pitch here while with Triple-A Fresno at Colorado Springs. "I actually did get a lot of rest last night and once I got out there I felt more comfortable than I expected to be. It's a relief to get the first one out of the way and now I know what to expect."
Hennessey held a 3-0 lead after three innings and fanned slugger Sammy Sosa for his initial big league strikeout before the Cubs hitters figured him out and sent him to the clubhouse behind, 4-3, after giving up seven hits.
"It was a different level hitting -- I guess I'll have to come up with some new tricks," said the rookie. "Things started off great, but you've got to take them as they come and build off this one. I can't get too down on the outcome."
As for facing some 42,000 fans -- about 31,000 more than he's seen in the minors -- and television cameras and a media horde due to Maddux's quest, Hennessey said he might as well get it over with. This is only a start to his career.
"The kid gave us [a lot, but] we mishandled a couple plays and cost him some extra pitches that hurt him," said manager Felipe Alou. "I told him, that's not the last time that you're gonna be on that mound for the Giants. A lot of balls were hit off the end of the bat, they weren't hit that hard."
Giants first baseman J.T. Snow said the Giants didn't hold a special powwow or advance meeting to face Maddux and are only trying to stay in the National League West hunt and Wild Card race.
"He looks like he always does, always has," said Snow. "It was going to happen eventually. Three hundred is a number for a guy who's been around a long time and had a great deal of success. There's no denying that. He's probably one of the best pitchers of our generation."
Corey Patterson's two-run homer off San Francisco reliever Tyler Walker in the sixth -- into McCovey Cove -- boosted the Cubs' margin to 6-3.
Giants starter Brett Tomko relieved in the ninth and promptly yielded a single to Nomar Garciaparra -- his sixth hit in two days -- then a two-run homer to Moises Alou. It was the 10th career homer by Alou against his manager-father and third this season.
The Giants took a 3-0 lead with a run in the first on Ray Durham's leadoff triple and Barry Bonds' sac fly. In the third, Edgardo Alfonzo hit an RBI single then scored on A.J. Pierzynski's triple.
Hennessey held the Cubs scoreless through three frames, striking out five, but weakened in the fourth as Aramis Ramirez doubled, Derrek Lee singled, then Todd Walker brought both home on a double. In the fifth, Chicago took a 4-3 lead on RBI blows by Ramirez and Lee.
Bringing in Tomko following appearances by relievers Tyler Walker and Matt Herges -- the latter threw two scoreless innings -- seemed strange because the right-hander is slated to pitch next Tuesday night at Pittsburgh. But in the veteran came.
"I had to take the kid out in the fifth inning and Tomko was fresh today," said Alou. "Very seldom do I do that, but there are times you have to do that."
Tomko was in a rush after the game, saying, "I've got nothing to say, guys. I've got to get out of here."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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