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Bonds hits 698th homer in loss

DENVER (AP) -- Given the choice, Colorado Rockies manager Clint
Hurdle said he wouldn't let Barry Bonds hurt his team.

Hurdle went back on his word and got away with it.

Bonds hit his 698th homer, but Jeromy Burnitz hit a tiebreaking
two-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Rockies rally for an
8-7 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.

"Those aren't easy decisions to make," Hurdle said. "You make
them and you just look for the best. It worked out."

Barely.

Colorado pitched to Bonds in the first inning, and Jamey Wright
got him to hit a weak pop up to shallow center with one out and a
runner on first.

The Rockies weren't so lucky in the third inning.

With Edgardo Alfonzo on second after an RBI double, Wright
tossed a first-pitch strike to Bonds, drawing cheers from the fans.
After a ball, Wright left a fastball out over the plate and Bonds
lifted a fly toward left.

The ball didn't appear to have enough on it to clear the wall,
but it bounced off left fielder Matt Holliday's glove and landed in
the stands for a two-run homer that put the Giants up 3-2.

"If we had been two outs, he would have been on in a heartbeat,
but I had a gut feeling we're asking for a big inning if we put him
on," Hurdle said. "I just didn't have a good enough feeling and,
of course, he hits the home run, so my gut feeling went from my gut
to my throat."

Bonds is within two homers of joining Hank Aaron (755) and Babe
Ruth (714) as the only players to reach 700. The six-time NL MVP
also has hit 40 homers in five straight seasons and eight overall,
tying Aaron's NL record. Ruth holds the major league record with 11
seasons with 40 homers.

Wright was far more careful with the Giants slugger in the
fifth, walking him on four pitches with two outs on nobody on.
Bonds just missed his second homer in the sixth inning, lining Jeff
Fassero's 3-0 fastball near the top of the wall in right. Bonds
finished 2-for-3 and was intentionally walked by Shawn Chacon with
one on and one out in the ninth inning.

"I'm no fool," Chacon said. "It's not about your ego, it's
about the situation in the game. We had to do that there."

Colorado's ploy almost didn't work.

The Rockies took a 6-4 lead in the seventh inning on Mark
Sweeney's grand slam, only to give it back on Ray Durham's two-run
double off Tim Harikkala (6-3) in the eighth.

Burnitz followed with a two-run homer in the bottom half off
Jason Christiansen (4-3), setting the stage for Chacon.

Colorado's closer has been on a roll over the past month getting
saves in his last seven chances, but seemed to revert to the form
that got him in trouble early in the year.

Chacon gave up a leadoff single to Michael Tucker, who hit a
solo homer in the fifth inning, then walked Bonds with one out.
Deivi Cruz followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to 8-7 and
J.T. Snow lined out to center.

Chacon followed with a wild pitch to put runners on second and
third, walked Pedro Feliz to load the bases and nearly hit Marquis
Grissom in the head. He finally ended it with a high fastball,
striking out Grissom for his 33rd save.

"There were fireworks right up to the end," Giants manager
Felipe Alou said. "You can't make mistakes late in the game
here."

The Giants certainly learned that, failing on a chance to make
up ground on Chicago in the NL wild-card race. The Giants are still
a half-game behind the Cubs, who lost 7-6 in 12 innings to
Montreal. Houston, which beat Cincinnati 9-7, is also a half-game
behind Chicago.

Starter Jason Schmidt had another rough outing, allowing six
runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings after giving up 12 runs in
eight innings his previous two starts.

Schmidt gave up a two-run homer to Holliday in the second before
giving up a single to Burnitz, hitting Holliday in the head and
walking Brad Hawpe to load the bases in the sixth. Sweeney followed
with his first career grand slam and team-record fifth pinch-hit
homer this season.

"I let it go tonight. I felt good," Schmidt said. "I wasn't
perfect, but I felt like I was getting back to where I want to be.
That last inning was just, I don't know."

Game notes
Colorado's Andy Tracy grounded out to second as a pinch
hitter in the sixth, his first appearance in the majors since June
13, 2001, while playing for Montreal. ... San Francisco's A.J.
Pierzynski is 3-for-26 in the past eight games. ... Colorado's Todd
Helton was 0-for-3, ending his hitting streak at 10 games. ...
Holliday left in the seventh inning after being hit just above the
left ear on a pitch by Schmidt. ... Bonds is two walks short of the
major league record of 198 he set in 2002.