Bonds belts No. 704 off Dodgers starter Penny
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds needed just 11 at-bats after a season-long layoff to hit career home run No. 704.
Bonds moved one homer closer to Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755 on Friday night with a solo shot in the slugger's fourth start of the year for the San Francisco Giants.
Bonds sent a 1-0 offspeed pitch from Los Angeles starter Brad Penny into the seats in right-center. He missed most of the year recovering from three operations on his right knee since Jan. 31.
It was the 41-year-old Bonds' first home run since a solo shot last Sept. 26 against the Dodgers' Jeff Weaver, a span of 354 days. When Bonds made contact, flashbulbs flickered from all directions and the fans instantly jumped to their feet in SBC Park and started roaring.
Bonds is third on the career list, trailing only Babe Ruth (714) and Aaron. His homer in the first inning Friday gave the Giants a 2-0 lead and came three batters after Randy Winn led off with a home run.
Bonds' first RBI of the season moved him into a ninth-place tie on the career list with Carl Yastrzemski with 1,844, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Bonds hit a high popup to shortstop Oscar Robles in the fourth, then drew his first intentional walk of the year in the fifth with Omar Vizquel on second following a two-run double. Fans waved their rubber chickens as is custom whenever Bonds gets a free pass -- he drew a major-league record 232 walks in 2004.
Carlton Fisk's 53 homers are the most any player has hit after turning 41, and Bonds now needs 52 to break Aaron's record.
Bonds returned to the Giants' starting lineup Monday in the opener of a three-game series against San Diego. He is expected to take Saturday's game off because it's a day game that follows a night game.
His knee is still tender and Bonds is still favoring it, but his swing seems as strong as ever. The seven-time NL MVP came close twice before to hitting his first homer of the year -- doubling off the top of the wall in left-center Monday night and splashing a ball into McCovey Cove only two feet foul in Thursday night's 7-1 loss to the Dodgers.
He acknowledges it's getting harder each year.
"I may hit the ball 410 feet and the next one isn't going to go 410 feet," Bonds said before Friday's game. "Maybe I'll grab my ribcage. That's life. I'm OK with it."
The Giants will hand out "I Was There" Bonds pins to all fans with a ticket stub for each homer he hits for the rest of his career at home.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press