SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- David Bell's home run wasn't nearly as
spectacular as the 491-foot shot by Barry Bonds, yet it meant more.
Barry Bonds will win his first-ever batting title this season.
Bonds hit the longest home run ever at Pacific Bell Park for
career homer No. 610 and the San Francisco Giants beat Los Angeles
6-5 Monday night to pull even with the Dodgers in the National League wild-card
race. Bell hit a two-run, tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning and
finished 3-for-3, driving in three runs and scoring twice as the
Giants won their fourth in a row and for the 12th time in 15 games. The NL West rivals play again Tuesday and Wednesday. The teams
each have 19 games remaining. ''We're not counting,'' Giants manager Dusty Baker said of all
the recent victories. ''Just every day's victory. It doesn't matter what
the streak is. It's just one more victory and one day closer to the
finish line. ''This is a two-game game. If they beat us tonight, it's back to
two and we've got to win two to get back.'' Bell learned quickly the significance of the Dodgers-Giants
rivalry after being traded from Seattle in the offseason. ''It's almost a playoff atmosphere,'' he said. ''I didn't have
that last year until the playoffs started. Every at-bat matters.'' Bonds led off the second inning with his drive to dead center
off Odalis Perez (13-9) for a 1-0 lead. Bonds' 43rd homer of the
season flew over people standing in a food line between the
bleacher seats in the 3-year-old ballpark. Bonds was just shy of matching his career best for distance. He
hit one 492 feet against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning
Aug. 27 off Denny Stark in Coors Field. ''You have to pitch to Barry Bonds in a situation like that,''
said Perez, who had won his last three decisions. ''You don't want
to put him on base. I made my pitch and he hit it.'' Rich Aurilia went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI for San
Francisco, which received a solid outing from starter Livan
Hernandez (10-15). Jeff Kent hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to
score Aurilia to give Kent 1,000 career RBI. Hernandez, who lost his previous outing, gave up three runs on
six hits in seven innings with five strikeouts. Robb Nen faced two batters in the eighth and worked the ninth
for his 37th save in 45 opportunities, breaking the franchise
record for saves with 200. Nen tied Rod Beck on Sunday night at 199. Beck did it from
1991-97, and congratulated Nen via the big-screen scoreboard
immediately after the final out. Nen also singled in the bottom of the eighth for his first major
league hit. He was 0-for-14 previously. The Dodgers scored two runs in the eighth, one when Bonds
allowed a single by Adrian Beltre to get past him in left field for
an error, sending Shawn Green home from first. Beltre went to
second on the error, then moved to third on a wild pitch. Felix
Rodriguez then got Brian Jordan to pop out before Nen entered to
face Eric Karros. Karros singled to center to score Beltre. Dodgers manager Jim Tracy expects every game the rest of the way
to be equally as exciting. ''We're in a dead heat, and that's what it's all about,'' he
said. ''You can't make mistake-type pitches and expect them not to
capitalize.'' Aurilia drove in Bell in the third for a 2-0 lead before Jordan
tied the game with a two-run double for the Dodgers in the fourth. ''I think if we're going to get on a streak where we're playing
our best baseball of the year, this is a great time to do it,''
Aurilia said. ''We haven't really put a string together all year.'' Trailing 3-2 and with two outs and runners on first and third in
the sixth, Jordan hit a run-scoring infield single, barely beating the
throw by Aurilia from shortstop to first.
Bonds drew his major league-leading 55th intentional walk.
He also leads the majors in total walks with 165. ... San
Francisco's Ramon Martinez had just his second stolen base all
season in the fourth. ... With Hernandez's victory, all five Giants
starters have five or more wins. ... Perez is winless against the
Giants in five career outings.