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Bonds hits No. 655 in Giants' win

9/16/2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Watch out, Hammerin' Hank -- Barry Bonds is just 100 homers away.

The San Francisco slugger hit his 655th career home run and also
reached a milestone in walks as the Giants rallied to beat the San Diego Padres 8-7 on Monday night.

Bonds connected for a solo shot off Brian Lawrence in the first
inning for his 42nd homer of the season. Bonds is five shy of tying
his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the career list at 660.

"That's reachable," said Bonds, who was greeted by actor Robin
Williams in the clubhouse after the game.

Hank Aaron leads the all-time home runs list with 755, followed
by Babe Ruth at 714. Bonds is tied with St. Louis' Albert Pujols
for the most homers in the NL, one behind major league leader Alex Rodriguez of Texas.

When asked whether he realized he had pulled within 100 homers of his
hero, Bonds shrugged and said: "No. Well, I know now."

Pinch-runner Pedro Feliz scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch
by Jay Witasick (3-5) with two outs in the eighth, capping a crazy
comeback. Feliz went to third on a flyball by Marquis Grissom to shallow right field. Gary Matthews Jr. caught the ball but didn't immediately try to make a play, apparently thinking it was the third out.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy called it a mental mistake, saying
Matthews lost track of outs.

"I was ready to take off," Feliz said. "I saw the way he
caught the ball and took advantage of that. I saw he was in a bad
position to make the throw to third."

San Francisco's magic number to clinch the NL West was reduced
to four. Any combination of Giants wins and Dodgers losses that
equals four will give San Francisco the division title. Los Angeles
didn't play Monday.

Joe Nathan (10-4) retired the only batter he faced for the win,
and Tim Worrell pitched the ninth for his 34th save. Nathan's 10th
win was a career high, making him the first Giants reliever to
reach the mark in one season since Scott Garrelts had 11 in 1987.

"I guess I got lucky," Nathan said. He left the ballpark sick
before Sunday's game and was still weak enough that manager Felipe
Alou hadn't planned to use him.

Bonds was walked twice, including a free pass in the eighth that
resulted in the tying run. J.T. Snow had walked two batters ahead
of Bonds, and Edgardo Alfonzo hit an RBI single to pull the Giants
within one. Benito Santiago then hit a 3-2 pitch into left to score
Bonds.

With Jose Cruz Jr. at the plate, Witasick threw a ball into the
dirt, allowing Feliz to come home for the go-ahead run.

The Giants continue to make teams pay when they walk Bonds.

"We've been finding ways all year," Bonds said. "We're not in
this position by accident."

Matthews was ejected by plate umpire Ron Kulpa in the ninth
after arguing a called third strike.

Snow hit a solo homer to center in the first, two batters before
Bonds. But the Giants failed to hold their early advantage.

Lawrence allowed two runs on four hits in five innings, striking
out three and walking one.

San Diego's Phil Nevin got three hits and scored twice against
Kirk Rueter, who left with a 4-3 lead with one out in the sixth.

Jim Brower entered with Khalil Greene on first after a walk.
Brower gave up a pinch-hit single to Todd Sears, then threw a wild
pitch that advanced the runners. Sean Burroughs walked to load the
bases, and Mark Loretta hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-4. Brian Giles hit a tiebreaking two-run triple to put the Padres ahead 6-4.

In the bottom of the sixth, Bonds was intentionally walked by
Brandon Villafuerte to load the bases. It was Bonds' 2,063rd walk,
breaking a tie with Ruth for second on the career list. Rickey Henderson leads with 2,190.

Alfonzo followed Bonds and also walked, scoring pinch-runner
Lance Niekro for his first big-league run. Santiago grounded out to
end the inning.

Santiago had a hand in the Padres' insurance run in the eighth,
allowing a two-base wild pitch that put Greene at third. The ball
got past Santiago, and he had trouble locating it. Greene scored on
Loretta's single.

"I felt we beat ourselves tonight," Bochy said. "When you
give that team extra opportunities, they're going to beat you."

The Giants scored two unearned runs in the second when Lawrence
charged toward the first-base line to field a sacrifice bunt by
Rueter and threw the ball over the head of Nevin at first base for
an error. The ball rolled to the bullpen dirt as Santiago and Cruz
scored.

Game notes
Rueter hasn't lost to San Diego since July 25, 2000. He's
11-2 against the Padres, his most wins against any opponent. ...
Marvin Benard got his first hit for the Giants since June 15, a
leadoff single in the sixth. ... Of Bonds' walks, 481 have been
intentional. ... Witasick blew his third save in five
opportunities. ... Grissom had his team-high 48th multihit game.
... The Giants have homered 16 times in their last seven games.