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Bonds rests; Morris, Durham help Giants sweep Astros

HOUSTON (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants completed their first
three-game series sweep of the season with Barry Bonds on the
bench.

The slugger received some much-needed rest, and watched Ray
Durham hit a three-run homer and single in a run for a season-high
four RBI and Matt Morris win for the first time in seven starts in
a 10-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Pedro Feliz, who has played every inning this season for the
Giants, hit a two-run homer and a run-scoring single to give him 10
RBI in the series.

Mark Sweeney doubled and drove in three runs and a Giants
offense that had been so stagnant at times is suddenly clicking.
San Francisco outscored Houston 34-5 at hitter friendly Minute Maid
Park, jumping to big leads each day on the way to matching its
longest winning streak of the season.

"Sometimes you play well in some ballparks," Jose Vizcaino
said. "We play well here. Too bad we only come once a year."

Manager Felipe Alou's take: "Maybe they like Minute Maid
oranges."

Bonds remained the buzz of the ballpark a day after being
plunked by Astros reliever Russ Springer -- and he wasn't even in
the starting lineup.

Springer? He was out of the state.

Major League Baseball on Wednesday had already begun reviewing
Bonds' at-bat leading off the fifth inning Tuesday night against
Springer, in which the pitcher's first offering sailed behind
Bonds' back to draw a warning from plate umpire Joe West.

The next four pitches all came inside, including one that
caromed off 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.

After being ejected, Springer left to a standing ovation --
something that deeply disturbed Alou.

"It bothered me a lot, because a lot of children were
watching," Alou said. "Find another way to express your feelings,
whatever they are -- not in front of millions of people."

Bonds, meanwhile, barely reacted to being hit, calmly taking
first base without a word or a glance toward the right-hander.
Springer took off immediately after the game to be with his wife
when she underwent surgery Wednesday morning in Louisiana.

Bonds didn't address it with the media after the game or again
beforehand Wednesday, when he entertained himself by playing cards
with trainer Greg Oliver -- perhaps a brief distraction from the
pressure surrounding his pursuit of Babe Ruth.

After the game, he sat in the office of visiting clubhouse
manager Steve Perry staring at a collection of about 300 bobblehead
dolls and doing a TV segment for his show "Bonds on Bonds" before
being driven away on a cart.

The chase resumes Friday at Oakland, and Bonds should be fresh
following an off day.

The seven-time NL MVP was stalled at 713 homers, one shy of
tying Ruth for second place on the career list behind home run king
Hank Aaron's 755. Bonds is homerless in eight games and 26 at-bats
since a 450-foot shot to right at Philadelphia on May 7.

Bonds had played eight straight days, his longest stretch in the
starting lineup without a break since playing 10 consecutive days
from June 18-27, 2004, though he was available to pinch hit in the
finale of a three-game series with Houston. Alou expects Bonds to
play designated hitter in all three games against the A's.

"Hopefully this kind of gets us going," Sweeney said. "The
good thing, too, is Barry gets two days to relax and then he gets
to DH."

Astros manager Phil Garner said he didn't expect the Giants to
retaliate and reiterated that he believes Springer did not
intentionally hit Bonds.

Morris (3-4) certainly couldn't afford to get in trouble.

The right-hander, in his first season with San Francisco,
received a fine last month along with pitching coach Dave Righetti
for their actions during a game at Colorado a day after Jose Mesa
plunked San Francisco shortstop Omar Vizquel.

Morris was fined for intentionally throwing at Matt Holliday in
the first inning. The right-hander was ejected after throwing only
eight pitches and plunking two of the five batters he faced.

This time, Morris pitched eight strong innings after losing his
previous four decisions and also added a pair of singles. He
allowed one run and three hits, struck out four and walked three in
a 118-pitch performance.

"The situation last night is what it is," Morris said. "Right
now, we're trying to get this team back on track and our priority
was to win the game. It's something you're not going to forget, but
sometimes that works better ... rather than sticking up for guys or
getting into the beanball game."

Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey made a visit to the mound in
the first inning for the third straight night after Houston's
starters fell behind in a hurry.

The way this series went for the defending NL champions,
thousands of fans had to be hoping for a return from Roger Clemens
-- not to mention the Astros finding some offense.

Fernando Nieve (1-2) was knocked out of the game after 3 2-3
innings.

Orlando Palmeiro hit an RBI single in the second for Houston.
Garner used Palmeiro in right field in place of struggling Jason
Lane in a move to try to generate more offense, but the Astros lost
for the 10th time in 13 games.

It's the first time since July 1962 -- the inaugural year of the
franchise -- that the Astros have allowed double-digit runs in three
consecutive games.

"This is about as bad a series as I can recall," Garner said.
"We didn't pitch it, we didn't hit it, we didn't catch it. That
about sums it up. I can't recall being beat this badly three games
in a row."

Game notes
In the three games, San Francisco scored nine total runs in
the first inning. The Giants scored 10 or more runs in three
straight games for the first time since Aug. 3-6, 2002, two games
at Pittsburgh and a home contest with the Cubs. ... All three
Houston starters in the series failed to make it through the fourth
inning. Reliever Trever Miller struck out the side in the fifth,
one of few bright spots for Houston pitchers. ... Morris has 68
career hits, three this year all against the Astros. ... Feliz hit
his ninth homer of the year. ... The Giants batted around in each
game.