Bonds joins Ruth and Aaron with milestone homer against Padres
Posted: Friday September 17, 2004 11:10PM; Updated: Monday September 20, 2004 11:31AM
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds struggled to find the words to describe his latest swing into history.
In truth, only the numbers could do it justice. With his 700th homer, Bonds made it a three-member club and moved ever closer to baseball's two greatest sluggers.
Bonds connected in the third inning of San Francisco's' 4-1 win over San Diego on Friday night, leading the Giants to their sixth straight win in the opener of their final nine-game homestand.
"It's just unbelievable," Bonds said. "You really can't put it into words to be in a class with those two great players. It's like you're dreaming and you're not dreaming. It's unbelievable, it's unreal."
Bonds' 42nd homer of the season is another steppingstone in the 40-year-old's march toward Ruth's once-unthinkable 714 and Aaron's imposing 755. Bonds hasn't been slowed by age, steroid suspicions or the collective fear of pitchers and managers walking him with record frequency.
Yet Bonds still clings to the hope of adding a World Series title to his list of accomplishments, and this victory kept the Giants (83-65) in front of the Cubs (81-64) by a half-game in the NL wild-card race.
"I have game left, and it's just really hard to fathom that I've hit 700 home runs and I can still play and still contribute," he said. "I just don't want to get satisfied, get too caught up into it all. Right now, I really want to focus on completing my career and, hopefully, coming back to the World Series."
As Bonds rounded second base, the Giants launched streamers and an elaborate fireworks display from the scoreboard and light towers in center field. He pointed skyward as he crossed home plate, then took a curtain call to a joyous standing ovation.
With the victory, San Francisco also kept pressure on the Dodgers, who lead the Giants by 21/2 games in the NL West. Third-place San Diego lost another chance to make up ground, falling 61/2 games behind Los Angeles.
Rookie Noah Lowry pitched 6 2-3 strong innings to remain unbeaten in the majors. But Bonds dominated yet another night at San Francisco's waterfront ballpark, which has seen more than its share of history during the latter years of Bonds' career.
Bonds hit just one homer on the Giants' recent eight-game trip, reaching 699 in Arizona. He got to work quickly back home: Instead of dunking another homer in the kayak-infested waters of McCovey Cove, Bonds went to the opposite field on an 0-1 slider from Jake Peavy.
"The good thing is I get to sleep now and stop having nightmares about this," Bonds said.
The ball landed a few rows deep in the stands, sparking a celebration with fireworks, streamers, banners and several standing ovations for the 40-year-old slugger.
"It's a tremendous accomplishment," said Expos manager Frank Robinson, fifth on the list with 586 homers. "He's going to hit a lot, lot more. A lot more. It's just a great achievement."
Bonds' 42nd homer increased San Francisco's lead to 4-0. He has hit 79 homers against San Diego -- 18 more than any other opponent _ but manager Bruce Bochy promised to pitch to the slugger if game conditions dictated it during the key three-game series.
"I hate to see something like this come against us in a game so important," Bochy said. "But it's a terrific accomplishment. There's a sense of history. He's maybe the greatest hitter ever in the game."
Bonds finished 1-for-3 with a fly to right and a seventh-inning strikeout against Peavy.
Bonds hit his 500th, 600th, 660th and 661st homers in San Francisco. The 5-year-old park also was the site of his 73rd homer in 2001, capping his single-season record.
Lowry also got a standing ovation when he left the game after Rich Aurilia drove home the Padres' first run with a seventh-inning double.
Lowry, an unassuming left-hander, allowed five hits and two walks. he is off to the best start ever for a San Francisco pitcher, surpassing Juan Marichal's 4-0 start in 1960.
"It's an honor to be part of this game," Lowry said.
The last Giants rookie to start 5-0 was Clydell "Slick" Castleman, who did it in New York in 1935. Lowry's veteran poise has been invaluable for the Giants, fighting for a playoff spot despite a patchwork rotation.
The Giants scored three runs in the first inning against Peavy (12-6), who hit Bonds and J.T. Snow during the rally. A.J. Pierzynski had a run-scoring single, and Marquis Grissom got a sacrifice fly.
Peavy allowed eight hits and struck out seven in seven innings, but couldn't overcome his rocky first. After going unbeaten in nine starts this summer, Peavy has lost three of four.
Alex Gonzalez went 0-for-2 and played errorless defense at shortstop in his debut with the Padres, who acquired him from Montreal on Thursday to help out their injury-plagued infield.
Rookie Khalil Greene and Sean Burroughs are expected to miss the rest of the regular season. Aurilia injured his ankle while stepping out of his SUV earlier in the week, though he started at third base.
Notes: Peavy threw 121 pitches. ... Burroughs had arthroscopic knee surgery Friday and he's done for the season. Greene broke his finger Monday, but has a chance to return for the playoffs.