SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds tested his fragile knee with
the world watching and came out of his season debut believing what
he's thought all along: He can still play baseball at the highest
level in his early 40s.
In his first game for San Francisco, Bonds strode to the plate
Monday night, tipped his batting helmet to the roaring,
flashbulb-popping crowd, then helped the Giants rally from a
three-run deficit to beat the first-place San Diego Padres 4-3.
"There's just no doubt in my mind that I can keep playing the
game at a high level," Bonds said.
Bonds, who went 1-for-4 with a strikeout, worked a 3-2 count in
his first at-bat and lined a double that fell just shy of clearing
the wall in left-center.
For an instant, Bonds thought he had another home run.
"Truthfully, I felt I didn't want to let the city down," said
Bonds, who admitted to being exhausted though he plans to play
again Tuesday. "That's the feeling you have out there. They came
to see you play, and you really want to put on a good performance
In his first trip to the plate since last October, a fan reached
over the fence and interfered with the ball, collecting it into the
stands, and the play was ruled a double.
The scoreboard briefly flashed "704" -- a premature
celebration. Bonds scored moments later on Ray Durham's single. The
fan was immediately ejected for interfering with play.
"I was wondering where the ball was," Bonds said. "I was
trying to get us a run."
While this was Bonds' night all the way, Durham hit a solo homer
that tied the game at 3 in the fourth and Edgardo Alfonzo added
three hits. Durham finished with three hits and two RBI, showing
he is a reliable option in the fifth hole behind Bonds if Moises
Alou misses significant time with a pulled groin. Rudy Seanez even
intentionally walked Durham after Bonds struck out in the seventh.
"I never thought that would happen," Durham said with a
chuckle, referring to the notion of him getting walked and Bonds
seeing pitches. "He definitely brings a presence to our lineup."
Mike Matheny hit a go-ahead single in the fourth, and Matt
Kinney (1-0) pitched 5 2-3 shutout innings of relief for the win.
Kinney worked the longest relief outing of his career and the
longest by a San Francisco pitcher since 2002.
San Diego (71-72), which could become the first first-place team
with a record under .500, leads the NL West by five games over
second-place Los Angeles and is six ahead of the Giants.
"Come out and get three and we stop after that. It's
puzzling," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "We didn't even
San Francisco manager Felipe Alou has spoken so many times this
year of looking forward to the day when he had both Bonds and
closer Armando Benitez on the field. Benitez, who missed more than
three months following surgery to reattach two torn hamstring
tendons to the pelvis, pitched the ninth for his 13th save.
The Giants lost first baseman J.T. Snow to an injured left
hamstring in the seventh when he grabbed his leg running out a
single. He is expected to miss a couple days.
Playing for the first time following three operations this year
on his troublesome right knee, Bonds led off the second for the
Giants, stretching his bat above his head as he walked out of the
dugout and acknowledging the fans before digging in against San
Diego's Adam Eaton (10-4).
Thus began a wild, 11-pitch at-bat in which Eaton, who has given
up three of Bonds' 703 career home runs, challenged Bonds with the
crowd was on its feet all the way.
The sequence: ball one low and outside, ball two low and outside
-- "Boo!" from the crowd. Called strike one, called strike two in
tight -- Bonds mouthing the word "Wow" in disbelief at the call.
Foul ball into the second deck, another foul behind him into the
second-tier seats, two straight towering fouls into the right-field
stands, ball low and away, a foul to left.
Then the double.
"He gave me the best at-bat I've seen this year in the first
at-bat," Felipe Alou said. "I'm not talking about this team, I'm
talking about any team."
In the third, Bonds hit a shallow fly to center. He flied out to
deep center in the fifth, then struck out swinging in the seventh
before Jason Ellison replaced him in the field to start the eighth.
The 41-year-old Bonds, resuming his quest for Hank Aaron's
career home run record of 755, received a warm ovation when he took
his spot in left field in the top of the first, tipping his hat to
the cheering crowd of 39,095.
A lengthy tribute and highlight show of the superstar played on
the main center-field scoreboard before the first pitch. Bonds is
clearly still loved in the Bay Area despite the steroids
controversy surrounding him, though everybody expects far worse
treatment on the road.
Rubber chickens returned to the ballpark souvenir stands for the
first time this season -- for fans to wave when Bonds is walked. A
few boats were in McCovey Cove beyond right field, with fans aboard
hoping to retrieve a Bonds' splash hit.
San Diego knocked Kevin Correia out of the game in the first,
taking a 3-0 lead.
The Giants' Justin Knoedler singled in the eighth for his
first major league hit. ... Benitez took over sole possession of
22nd place on the saves list with 257. ... Padres OF Ryan Klesko
got another day off to recover from shoulder and neck soreness. ...
Moises Alou has a "fairly significant" groin pull according to
trainer Stan Conte. ... Kinney got his first big league win since
beating the Angels on June 8 last year while with Milwaukee.