How about that for adding to the intrigue of Bonds' pursuit to
pass the Babe?
Bonds' quest to move past Babe Ruth and into sole possession of
second place on the career home run list is headed for San
Francisco, where the Giants open a three-game series Monday night
against Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Bonds went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and an intentional
walk and Matt Cain pitched a one-hitter in the Giants'
anticlimactic 6-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
Bonds remained at 714 home runs a day after connecting for a solo
shot to tie Ruth for second behind home run king Hank Aaron's 755.
"I'm just glad it's over with and you guys can watch Albert
Pujols now, because he's doing some wonderful things," Bonds said
of his Cardinals counterpart, who hit his major league-leading 22nd
homer Sunday with a solo shot in a 10-3 win at Kansas City.
Pujols homered for the third straight game and reached 22 homers
in only 44 games, the second-fewest in baseball history. Bonds did
it in 43 games in 2001 on the way to 73 homers and breaking Mark
McGwire's single-season record of 70.
"The difference is Albert has been doing it four years, five
years," Giants catcher Mike Matheny said. "Barry's been doing it
The Giants are playing some of their best baseball -- and looked
good through the rain that fell for most of Sunday's contest.
Mark Sweeney hit a two-run double, Randy Winn singled in two
runs and Ray Durham drove in a run on a groundout to help Cain
(2-5) end a three-game losing streak. Cain got his second career
complete game and first shutout, and San Francisco took two of
three in the Bay Bridge Series to win its second straight series
after sweeping the defending NL champion Houston Astros last week.
Bonds was intentionally walked for the 20th time this season --
his 43rd free pass overall -- in the first with runners on second
and third with one out, and he quickly shed his protective body
armor and handed it off to his 16-year-old son, bat boy Nikolai.
Manager Felipe Alou has been pleased with Bonds' recent hitting
"I've been waiting, wanting to see Barry hit .300 and be the
hitter he is," Alou said. "It took a little time for him to get
into a groove, but it's coming on."
Bonds singled to center in the fourth and scored on Sweeney's
double, grounded out in the fifth, then lined a single to right in
the seventh. When he was lifted for pinch-hitter Dan Ortmeier in
the ninth, the fans booed loudly and many made a mad rush for the
"Keep the attention on him because he deserves that," Pujols
said. "I admire the way he's played the game. Hopefully, he can
get that record this year."
The Giants' pitchers will have to try to slow down Pujols, who
also is tops in the majors with 53 RBI, 56 runs scored and 118
total bases. He already had a four-game homer streak this season
between April 15-18.
It should be a fun series if Bonds keeps hitting.
Slowly, he seems to be finding his old stroke again -- so there's
a good chance he will hit his next milestone home run at home after
all as he has so many times before.
"It's something we kind of enjoy, too," Sweeney said. "It is
a part of history. Let's not make light of it. Yesterday was a
special moment. Hopefully he can do it at home."
The 41-year-old Bonds has hit three homers in 14 career at-bats
against St. Louis lefty Mark Mulder (5-1), who starts Monday's
series opener for St. Louis.
Bonds has hit most of his other milestone home runs in San
Francisco: 500, 600, 700 along with 660 and 661 to tie and pass
godfather Willie Mays. In 2001, Bonds hit the final three of his 73
homers at home to break McGwire's mark.
Bonds and many others considered 714 a bigger accomplishment
than actually passing Ruth, the same way the slugger treated 660 to
tie Mays for third place on the career list two years ago.
"What I've seen so far, 714 is more important," Alou said
before the game. "To me, 715 because it might give us a win. All
the expectations, all the articles -- I don't believe there will be
so many articles and cameras for 715. If there are, I better find
myself a place to hide somewhere. Everybody is talking about 714."
Though Alou knows Bonds' 714th certainly had his teammates happy
-- not only for Bonds' accomplishment but also the idea that maybe
the circus following the slugger's pursuit of Ruth might be nearing
its final act.
That's if Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pitches to the
seven-time NL MVP.
"Those guys were waiting for Barry to do it," Alou said.
"They couldn't wait for him to do it, to get some of that
expectation and pressure out of the way."
Cain, a rookie who had his turn skipped last Monday night at
Houston to work out some of his problems, struck out five and
walked three in an impressive 120-pitch performance. Jay Payton
managed the only hit against him with a third-inning double.
"Skipping him, time to work on things, was good," Payton said.
"He's young. He's got a great arm and he'll have some success up
The 21-year-old right-hander, called up from Triple-A Fresno on
Aug. 26, won for the first time since April 24 against the New York
Mets -- which had been his only victory in six 2006 decisions.
His veteran teammates -- Sweeney, Todd Greene and Jamey Wright --
called him over to a couch in the crowded visitor's clubhouse for a
drink to celebrate the shutout and his return to the rotation. Cain
has only been old enough to legally partake since Oct. 1.
"It's exciting," Cain said. "You can only get so many of
them. You've got to have that little celebration because they don't
come around that often."
The Giants knocked A's starter Joe Blanton (4-5) out of the game
after four innings for his shortest outing of the year. Blanton,
who had been ill in recent days, was looked at on the mound by
trainer Larry Davis early but stayed in the game.
Nick Swisher walked in the third a day after having his
streak of consecutive games reaching base broken at 36. ... Cain
made his first career start against the A's and helped the Giants
to their third shutout of the year.