OAKLAND — Armando Benitez was out of practice, and he didn't have much margin for error.

Benitez entered in a save situation Saturday for just the third time since April 22, inherited two runners and allowed one to score on Jay Payton's game-tying single in the bottom of the ninth inning.

With the winning run at third base, Benitez needed third baseman Pedro Feliz to turn a double play on Jason Kendall's line drive to keep the A's from walking off with the victory.

Giants manager Felipe Alou hoped that Jason Schmidt could finish off his third complete game in four starts, but Eric Chavez led off the ninth by drawing a walk in a terrific, 10-pitch at-bat. Bobby Crosby hit a one-out single that Jason Ellison nearly caught in left field.

"After that, with (132) pitches, I had to take him out unfortunately," Alou said.

It was Schmidt's highest pitch count since his infamous 144-pitch one-hitter at Wrigley Field in May 2004.

"I felt strong out there," Schmidt said. "What you don't know is how you'll feel the next day."

Benitez ended up with a blown save and a win. He gave up an infield single and a walk in the 10th inning, but Steve Kline had stopped warming up in the bullpen, and Benitez got Chavez to hit a deep fly out.

"He threw a lot of strikes, which was really my concern," Alou said.

NIEKRO STILL OUT: Lance Niekro's sore right shoulder kept him out of the lineup again, and the first baseman could be headed to the disabled list, if the injury doesn't improve soon.


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Niekro hasn't played since May 14 when he reached to tag the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal on a play down the line. Alou waited to submit Saturday's lineup and was disappointed that Niekro couldn't start against a left-handed pitcher.

Alou didn't want to use Niekro off the bench because it would restart the 15-day clock, should the club decide to disable him. So Jose Vizcaino replaced Mark Sweeney at first base in the bottom of the ninth inning.

ELLISON STARTS: Alou posted the lineup for the 43rd game of the season, and for the first time, Ellison was in it.

Well, at least for a moment. Someone got a hold of the sheet and printed a new one. On it, Greg "Sweets" Oliver, one of Barry Bonds' personal assistants, was batting ninth and playing left field.

Bonds smiled wearily when he saw the sheet while eating an egg-white omelet.

ONE-HOPPERS: In tying Babe Ruth, Bonds also tied the major league record for homers by a left-handed hitter. ... Brad Halsey became the 420th pitcher to surrender a home run to Bonds, also a record. ... Bonds has eight home runs in 77 career at-bats at the Coliseum. ... Bonds has nine career homers as a designated hitter. ... Schmidt is 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA over his past five starts.