DENVER – Barry Bonds went hitless in a surprise start, but the San Francisco Giants still kept their slim playoff hopes alive by scoring four runs in the ninth for a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Pinch-hitter Julio Ramirez hit the go-ahead single – his first major league hit since 2002 – off Rockies closer Brian Fuentes (2-5) in the ninth, as San Francisco pulled within 41/2 games of San Diego in the NL West.

The Padres played at Arizona later Sunday. The Giants and Padres start a four-game series in San Diego on Monday and the win by the Giants (73-82) means they’ll be mathematically alive in the West until at least Tuesday.

Moises Alou had a single and two triples. His two-run triple in the ninth made it 5-2 and chased Fuentes.

Still running gingerly on his surgically repaired knee, Bonds normally wouldn’t start in a day game following a night game. But, given San Francisco’s dire playoff circumstances, manager Felipe Alou asked the slugger if he could go before Sunday afternoon’s game and Bonds said yes.

He finished 0-for-3 with a walk, failing to get the ball out of the infield, before being lifted for a defensive replacement in the seventh.

He popped out to short and second – the second popout with two runners on – and drew a walk against Rockies starter Byung-Hyun Kim. With a runner on first in the seventh, Bonds faced lefty reliever Randy Williams and grounded out to first.

Alou said Bonds would probably not start once the Giants are eliminated from the playoff race, but Sunday’s win guaranteed he’ll be needed for at least one more game.

Tyler Walker (5-4) pitched the eighth to get the win. Closer Armando Benitez worked the ninth for the Giants in a non-save situation.

Randy Winn had three hits for San Francisco, including his third leadoff homer of the season.

The Giants blew a great opportunity to take the lead in the eighth. With runners on first and second and no out, they couldn’t get a run home, even after a double steal – helped by a botched throw from pitcher Scott Dohmann to third baseman Garrett Atkins – gave them runners on second and third with one out.

The Rockies had a chance to take the lead in the seventh, with runners on first and third and one out, but Scott Eyre struck out Cory Sullivan and Todd Helton to keep the game tied at 2.

Helton homered in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.

Kim, competing for a spot in Colorado’s 2006 rotation, allowed two runs and six hits in five innings.

Giants starter Matt Cain went six innings, allowing one run and three hits before being replaced by LaTroy Hawkins, who walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh and allowed the game-tying run on an RBI triple by pinch-hitter Aaron Miles.

Notes: With the loss, the Rockies finished their home schedule at 40-41. They play their last two series at Atlanta and the Mets. … The Giants improved to 10-10-1 in their 21 series since the All-Star break.

AP-ES-09-25-05 1824EDT

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