Bonds hit by pitch, stuck on 713; Giants spank Astros

HOUSTON (AP) -- Nobody wants to surrender Barry Bonds' next home
run, and Astros right-hander Russ Springer wasn't about to wind up
on the wrong end of history Tuesday night.

He wound up and plunked the San Francisco slugger instead.

Bonds went 2-for-4 and drove in a run for the second straight
game in the Giants's 14-3 victory over Houston. Just when it looked
like he had rediscovered his stroke, Springer couldn't find the

And Bonds is still looking for home run No. 714.

The wild confrontation began when the seven-time NL MVP led off
the fifth inning. Springer's first pitch sailed behind Bonds' back,
drawing a warning from plate umpire Joe West.

The next four pitches all came inside, including one that hit
Bonds' bat handle on the third delivery for strike one. On the
fifth pitch, Springer hit Bonds in the right shoulder as he turned
to protect himself.

That's when Springer and manager Phil Garner got ejected -- and
the Houston crowd of 35,286 gave the pitcher a standing ovation.

"He missed with a slider and that's when the warning came,"
Garner said. "He just started missing his pitches. If you're going
to try to hit somebody, you're not going to hit them with a

Springer, who had allowed one homer to Bonds previously, could
be fined or suspended.

"I played with Russ in St. Louis," Giants reliever Steve Kline
said. "I had no idea he had anything for Barry. With the score the
way it was, maybe they were mad he was still in the game. I don't
know. It's baseball. Maybe one got away from him."

Bonds was unhurt and trotted down the first-base line and later
scored on Jose Vizcaino's RBI single to give the Giants a 12-3

He also remained stalled at 713 homers -- one shy of tying Babe
Ruth for second place on the career list -- for his eighth straight
game. He gave way to defensive replacement Jason Ellison in the top
of the sixth.

Springer also hit Bonds in September 2004, only four days after
Bonds hit his 700th homer off Jake Peavy.

The pitcher was already gone when the Astros' clubhouse opened
to the media and Garner said Springer was en route to Louisiana to
be with his wife, who had surgery scheduled for Wednesday morning.

"I haven't had time to prepare a speech," Giants manager
Felipe Alou said of Springer's pitch. "It's a lot of people
watching, especially the at-bats of Barry's. All the people
watching with an honest heart, they can say what they want to say.
I'm not commenting."

The 41-year-old Bonds had already singled twice and driven in a
run in San Francisco's five-run first. He flied out to the warning
track in right in the second and to center to end the sixth.

Bonds has not homered in 26 at-bats since hitting 713 with a
450-foot shot in Philadelphia on May 7, going 4-for-26 during that

"It's just a matter of when he'll go back," Astros ace Andy
Pettitte said. "If I was pitching against him, I wouldn't be that
worried or upset if it happened to be me. I would try to pitch to
him the way the game dictates."

Or just plain exhausted.

After playing for the eighth straight day, Bonds is scheduled to
get his first day off Wednesday since sitting out a makeup game
against the Astros on May 8 in San Francisco -- his longest stretch
in the starting lineup without a break since playing 10 consecutive
days from June 18-27, 2004. He could pinch hit Wednesday night,

The slugger played only 14 games in 2005 -- all in September --
following three operations on his troublesome right knee.

Pedro Feliz had a solo home run to start the seventh and added
an RBI single for the Giants. Omar Vizquel drove in four runs, with
a bases-clearing triple and sacrifice fly.

The Giants staked starter Jamey Wright (4-3) to a 5-0 lead in
the first with five straight one-out hits against Wandy Rodriguez
(5-2) as San Francisco batted around. San Francisco also jumped to
a big lead early in its 10-1 victory Monday.

Wright pitched seven strong innings for his second straight win
after a three-start losing streak.

Morgan Ensberg hit his 13th home run of the season with a
two-run shot in the first for the Astros, sending a 3-2 pitch into
the seats above the out-of-town scoreboard in left.

Bonds hit an RBI single just inside the line past first in the
first inning, his second straight game driving in a run after
getting an RBI double Monday to end an 0-for-15 funk.

After taking a called strike one in the second, Bonds flied out
to right field, where Jason Lane made the catch a few feet in front
of the fence. Bonds lined a 2-0 pitch to right for a single to
start the fourth.

He had some fun before the game, joking around and laughing in
the dugout before taking six rounds of batting practice, where he
hit five homers on 24 swings, two into the upper deck.

Then Bonds kept moving spots in the dugout to see whether the
horde of cameras following his every move would move as he picked a
new place to sit. His relaxed mood seemed to carry over onto the

Back in the Bay Area in Oakland, where the Giants play a
three-game interleague series starting Friday, the Athletics are
already discussing their strategy for the slugger. Giants manager
Felipe Alou has said he hopes Bonds can play designated hitter all
three days.

"That would be interesting to watch," A's manager Ken Macha
said before his team played the Seattle Mariners. "If we have a
10-2 lead and he hits a home run, that's OK with me.

"He's a good enough player it doesn't matter how much he's
struggling. Good players are good players and good players rise to
the occasion."

Game notes
Astros SS Adam Everett committed his first error of the
season, booting a routine grounder that allowed Durham to reach
leading off the second. ... Rodriguez, a left-hander making his
first career start against the Giants, was done after 3 2-3 innings
a night after rookie Taylor Buchholz lasted only three innings. ...
San Francisco rookie RHP Matt Cain, who had his turn in the
rotation skipped Monday, pitched in relief and is slated to start
again Sunday in Oakland.