Too little, too late
Bonds' ninth-inning home run wasted in lossPosted: Friday October 04, 2002 2:24 AM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Barry Bonds hit a long home run into the right-field seats, just the second time in his career he's gone deep in the postseason.
It wasn't enough.
Kirk Rueter was knocked out in the fourth inning and Bonds was hitless until his impressive shot in the ninth inning off John Smoltz as Atlanta beat San Francisco 7-3 on Thursday night to even the NL Division Series at a game apiece.
Bonds finished 1-for-4, making him 2-for-8 in the series.
"We could have hit three home runs, they still would've won," Bonds said.
In 29 career postseason games, Bonds is hitting .200. He hardly had a chance to do any damage in this game after the Braves took a big lead early. Bonds never batted with runners on base and he led off an inning three times, including the ninth.
With an 0-1 count, Bonds crushed a high fastball deep into the seats in right for his first playoff homer since 1992 -- off Atlanta's Tom Glavine.
When asked what pitch he hit, Bonds said, "It was the wrong one, but not soon enough."
Atlanta has come right at Bonds, and Game 2 starter Kevin Millwood did the same. In the second inning, Millwood threw four fastballs to Bonds and struck him out.
"That's probably the best I've ever seen him," Bonds said. "He had every pitch he had to make."
Rueter was charged with all seven runs -- six earned -- and seven hits, including back-to-back solo homers by Javy Lopez and Vinny Castilla in the second.
Rueter left after a two-run triple by Mark DeRosa in the fourth, the third straight hitter to reach in the inning.
One of the reasons Rueter started instead of Jason Schmidt was his success on the road. The left-hander was 9-3 away from Pacific Bell Park this season, and his 60-29 career record on the road is the second-best among active pitchers with at least 65 decisions.
Rueter also had been great in the postseason, allowing only one earned run in 11 1/3 innings in two previous appearances.
But Atlanta scored four runs in the first two innings. Rueter fell behind 12 of his 17 batters and threw a first-pitch strike to just seven. Only 32 of 62 pitches were strikes.
It matched the shortest outing of the season for Rueter.
"They hit good pitches and bad pitches," he said. "They did a good job of laying off the fastballs in, and were looking for the fastball away."
Bonds was back in Atlanta, the site of perhaps his best-known postseason moment. In the 1992 NL championship series, when he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bonds threw home too late in an attempt to get Sid Bream on Francisco Cabrera's single as the Braves reached the World Series.
That game was at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, now a parking lot adjacent to Turner Field.
Bonds and Rueter weren't the only ones who stumbled, though. A passed ball by Benito Santiago, his second error in two days, let one run score, and San Francisco batters struck out 14 times.
Even though the Giants got a split in Atlanta, Bonds wasn't satisfied.
"I don't look for splits, brother, I look for wins," he said.