Minutes after the San Francisco Giants completed a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates, stadium workers began dismantling the outfield fences to prepare for a 49ers football game this weekend.
The Giants hope those fences will have to be put back up next week.The 6-2 win Thursday pulled San Francisco within one game of idle New York and Chicago in the NL wild-card chase, increasing the chances the Giants will play again at home this year.
Barry Bonds and three teammates hit solo homers as the resurgent Giants, playing their last scheduled home game of the season, set up a wild weekend in the race for the final playoff spot.
San Francisco, the Mets and the Cubs all finish with three games on the road. The Giants visit Colorado (76-83) beginning Friday night, while the Mets play at East champion Atlanta (103-56) and the Cubs play at Central champion Hous-ton (100-59).
"I couldn't pick two finer cities for them to play in. Hopefully, Atlanta and Houston will play well," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "We're one step closer. Hopefully, we can take that final step in Colorado."
The Giants moved within one game of the wild-card lead for the first time since Sept. 8.
Bonds hit his 37th homer and Joe Carter, Rich Aurilia and pitcher Russ Ortiz also connected for solo home runs.
"This is what baseball is all about. This is the fun part," said Carter, who is retiring at the end of the season. "We still have three games left, and we're looking for something exciting to happen. It's going to come down to the very last day, I guarantee it."
The Giants won for the seventh time in eight games and got their first four-game sweep.
When the Giants returned home a week ago after losing two of three at Arizona, they were demoralized and five games back in the loss column in the wild-card race.
"Everyone wrote us off. Those were crucial losses in Arizona. But nobody wanted to go out as a loser," Aurilia said. "We're happy with the way we're playing right now, and we're happy with our position heading into the weekend."
Bonds homered in the first. Aurilia hit his ninth and Ortiz hit his first major league homer in the second, and Carter led off the sixth with his 17th homer of the season.
CARDINALS 6, EXPOS 3: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are all even - tied at 65 home runs with three games left.
McGwire went 1-for-3 with a walk, leaving him 2-for-10 - both singles - in his last three games. McGwire finishes this weekend at home against Montreal while Sosa and the Cubs visit Houston.
Ray Lankford had four hits, including his 31st homer, and drove in four runs. Brian Jordan also homered as St. Louis won for the seventh time in eight games.
DODGERS 4, BREWERS 1: Milwaukee's Steve Woodard took a perfect game bid into the seventh inning before Roger Cedeno hom-ered, and Los Angeles won at Dodger Stadium.
Woodard, 1-7 in his previous nine starts, look sharp in retiring the first 18 batters.
PHILLIES-MARLINS, ppd.: With Hurricane Georges approaching, the game was postponed and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader Saturday.