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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Barry Bonds Ties Babe Ruth At 714 Today Against The Oakland A's - ESPN and AP

Bonds hits home run No. 714, ties Babe Ruth
ESPN and Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The agonizing wait is over for Barry Bonds. He and the Babe are even at 714.

Bonds tied Babe Ruth for second place on the career home run list Saturday, ending a nine-game slump with a shot into the first deck of the elevated stands in right-center during San Francisco's 4-2, 10-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics.

The second-inning drive landed about eight rows up in the seats overlooking the high fence just to the left of the out-of-town scoreboard. Though the A's don't provide estimated distances on home runs, this one appeared to travel about 400 feet -- far from being one of Bonds' trademark behemoth drives.

Booed when he was introduced before the game, the Giants' star received a long standing ovation after his home run, and the game was delayed about 90 seconds.

Next up is Hank Aaron's record of 755.

Bonds, dogged by allegations of steroid use and repeated taunts on the road, was immediately greeted by his teammates after circling the bases. They surrounded him at the top of the dugout as Bonds tipped his cap and blew a kiss to his wife and two daughters sitting in the first row.

Bonds had gone 29 at-bats without a homer since hitting No. 713 with a 450-foot shot May 7 in Philadelphia. His teenage son, Nikolai, a Giants bat boy, was waiting for him at home plate and they embraced.

The Giants plan to commemorate No. 715 in their own ballpark. Major League Baseball has said it won't do anything special to celebrate Bonds moving into second place, and a commissioner's office spokesman said baseball had no comment Saturday.

The ball was caught on the fly by 19-year-old Tyler Snyder of nearby Pleasanton, who was cheered by fans around him and quickly left the Coliseum with his souvenir.

Left-hander Brad Halsey became the 420th pitcher to allow a homer to Bonds, who was San Francisco's designated hitter in an interleague series against the A's.

"It's a pretty unbelievable thing," Astros reliever Brad Lidge said in Houston, where the Giants swept a three-game series earlier in the week. "No matter what kind of controversy surrounds him and no matter what side of the fence you are on as far as what he did or didn't do with performance-enhancing drugs, you've got to admit that it's a pretty impressive number."

The seven-time NL MVP was booed when his name was announced before the game and again the moment he began walking to the batter's box. He connected on a 1-1 pitch from Halsey, making history with his sixth home run this season.

Bonds came to the plate in the third to chants of "Barry! Barry!" and struck out looking. He flied out to left leading off the sixth and was intentionally walked in the eighth and again in the 10th with none out and runners on second and third.

"I'm not anti-Barry Bonds. I'm not pro-Barry Bonds," said Astros reliever Russ Springer, suspended four games Friday for hitting Bonds with a pitch Tuesday night. "He's a good player. I enjoy watching him play. He's one of the better hitters. I'm just glad he didn't hit it here and he can hit all he wants somewhere else."

Bonds had hoped to reach his latest milestone home run at home in San Francisco, where he hit Nos. 500, 600 and 700 along with 660 and 661 to tie and pass his godfather, Willie Mays. In 2001, Bonds hit the final three of his 73 homers at home to break Mark McGwire's single-season record of 70.

Still, the slugger had to be happy to hit No. 714 back in the Bay Area in front of his family and friends. Only six days earlier, Bonds suggested he was being haunted by "two ghosts" -- a reference to Ruth and Aaron.

Ruth passed Sam Thompson to move into second place on June 20, 1921, when he hit his 127th home run. Aaron passed Ruth in April 1974 -- and now Hammerin' Hank's mark is the only one left for Bonds to chase.

Yet Bonds has said that could be a long shot considering he turns 42 on July 24, is playing on a surgically repaired right knee and with bone chips floating around in his left elbow.

In his 21st major league season, Bonds has hit nine career home runs as a designated hitter -- and realizes his future could be in the American League as a DH if he returns in 2007.

Bonds had 40 plate appearances between Nos. 713 and 714. He had been 4-for-29 (.138) with 10 walks, three intentional, six runs scored, two RBI and four strikeouts since his last homer.

"He finally hit it? It's about time," said Ken Griffey Jr., who entered the night with 539 career homers, in the Cincinnati Reds' clubhouse in Detroit. "Now I don't have to keep watching TV to see him do it."

He was destined for greatness at an early age. The son of three-time All-Star Bobby Bonds and the godson of one of the game's greatest players in Mays, Bonds spent his childhood years roaming the clubhouse at Candlestick Park, getting tips from Mays and other Giants.

In a matter of years, Bonds went from a wiry leadoff hitter when he broke into the big leagues with Pittsburgh in 1986 to the most feared slugger of his generation and possibly ever.

It was a transformation many -- including federal prosecutors in the BALCO case -- believe was fueled by the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds has long denied ever knowingly taking steroids, though the new book "Game of Shadows" reveals his alleged longtime doping regimen the authors say began after the 1998 season when Bonds saw the attention McGwire and Sammy Sosa generated in their race for the single-season home run record.

Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, pleaded guilty to his role in a steroid distribution ring, and a federal grand jury is looking into whether Bonds perjured himself when he testified to the separate grand jury that indicted Anderson and three others in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal.

One fan in the front row behind home plate Saturday sported a No. 25 Bonds jersey with BALCO on the back where Bonds' name should be.

Partly because of his prickly relationship with fans and the media, Bonds was never a beloved superstar even before the steroid allegations. He was not voted by fans onto baseball's All-Century team, losing out to Griffey, among others.

But the latest accusations have hurt his reputation even more, and the anticipation as he neared Ruth's mark was tempered for that reason. Just as when Aaron passed the Babe in 1974, there is resentment among those who believe Ruth is the greatest player ever, although this time it's more because of steroids than racism.

The allegations of cheating have put a cloud over Bonds' rapid rise up the home run chart. He hit his 500th homer on April 17, 2001, on the way to a record 73 that season, and reached 700 on Sept. 17, 2004, a stretch unmatched by any player at the end of his career.

Before the bottom of the 11th inning in the Yankees' 5-4, 11-inning win over the Mets at Shea Stadium, a message on the scoreboard announced Bonds' 714th homer, and the crowd booed.

"I still remember Barry Bonds as a great player, regardless of steroids or what," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "How many home runs would he have hit without whatever people are saying is going on? I don't know. I know one thing: That player-wise, he's pretty good."

Bonds has said his many milestones won't mean as much later if he doesn't win a World Series ring, the only thing missing from a decorated resume featuring the record seven NL MVP awards, 13 All-Star selections and eight Gold Gloves in left field.

The Giants fell six outs short of winning it all in 2002 when they blew their lead in Game 6 and lost in the deciding seventh game to the Angels. While Bonds was at his best that postseason, with eight homers and 27 walks, it was his struggles in his first five trips to the playoffs with Pittsburgh and San Francisco that characterized his career before he became a record-setting home run hitter.

No matter the controversy, his home fans still adore him, chanting his name when he comes to bat and waving yellow rubber chickens whenever an opposing manager makes the most unpopular choice to intentionally walk him.

It is Bonds, after all, who is the biggest reason 3 million fans a year pack the seats at the Giants' sparkling waterfront ballpark, which opened in 2000.

Ray Durham hit a go-ahead RBI single to score Omar Vizquel in the 10th, Steve Finley added a sacrifice fly in the inning and Mike Matheny homered in the seventh as the Giants ended a four-game losing streak in the Bay Bridge Series.

Jason Schmidt pitched into the ninth before missing his chance to win a fourth straight decision. Armando Benitez (3-0) blew his second save but recovered for the win, while Kiko Calero (0-1) loaded the bases in the 10th on the way to the loss.

Barry Bonds Still Stuck At 713 Versus Oakland A's - Tribune

Pitchin' like Giant busters
A's Haren, Street go after Bonds, spin shutout


Oakland Athletics fans taunt San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds after he flyed out to center field in the second inning Friday, May 19, 2006 in Oakland, Calif. (Staff Photo by D. Ross Cameron

OAKLAND — No rubber chickens were at the Coliseum.

The A's pitchers went after Barry Bonds on Friday night, even with a 3-0 count, even with the game on the line, and lived to tell about it.

In fact, Dan Haren and Huston Street will no doubt be telling their grandchildren about Friday night's game.

Haren allowed two hits in eight innings, and Street struck out Bonds for a dramatic conclusion to a 1-0 A's victory over the Giants before a sellout crowd of 35,077 (which included 1,000 with standing-room only tickets) at the Coliseum.

The A's and Giants played their 51st regular season game since the inception of interleague in 1997, and it was the first that ended 1-0.

Only fitting it was the duel between good friends and former Pepperdine teammates Haren and Noah Lowry, who always seem to face off.

After the Giants scored 34 runs the previous three games in Houston, Haren held them scoreless for eight innings, allowing just two hits andtwo walks.

Haren threw 13 of his 14 pitches away to Bonds, the only exception a 1-0 breaking ball in the seventh inning that was inside and bounced at the plate.

Street threw a 1-1 fastball directly down the middle — the stadium radar gun was turned off — that Bonds nicked for a foul ball, then a rare Street changeup had Bonds flailing helplessly to send the A's crowd into a frenzy.

Bonds flew to center in the second, walked in the fourth and lined out to left on a 3-0 pitch in the seventh. Bonds is now 0-for-6 lifetime against Haren. Bonds has never faced Brad Halsey, the A's starter today.

Since Bonds' last homer on May7, he's 4-for-28 (.143) with nine walks and a hit by pitch in nine starts.

From 2000-2005, Bonds averaged a home run ever 8.23 at-bats. This year, he's hit five in 92 at-bats, or once every 18.4 at-bats.

The only intentional walk Friday night was issued by the Giants. With a runner at third and two outs in the seventh, Felipe Alou put Eric Chavez on first to face Frank Thomas. The strategy worked as Thomas flied out weakly to right.

Haren retired 10 of the first 11 batters to begin the game, the only runner getting wiped out on an interesting double play.

On a hit-and-run, A's second baseman Mark Ellis was covering second as Mike Matheny hit a grounder directly at him. Ellis stepped on the bag, leaped to avoid the slide of Mark Sweeney, was about to throw off-balance, then realized he had lots of time, so waited and then calmly threw to first.

Sweeney was robbed of a hit in the fifth by shortstop Bobby Crosby, who deftly cradled the ball after he dove and it got away from him briefly. Crosby made another good play, deep in the hole, to retire Omar Vizquel in the sixth inning.

Pedro Feliz, who has six home runs in 83 at-bats against the A's, just missed two more, flying out to the warning track in right in the second inning, and putting Jay Payton's back to the wall in left in the seventh.

Haren, who threw 100 pitches in a complete-game victory Sunday at Yankee Stadium, was at 89 pitches entering the eighth.

A one-out double by Sweeney prompted closer Huston Street to get up, although it took a few extra moments to find his glove.

Matheny was hit by a pitch, then Todd Greene was called out on strikes for the second out. With most of the crowd on its feet, Randy Winn hit a soft liner to left, Payton made a running catch, and pumped fists were all around.

Crosby just missed a two-run homer in the second inning, hitting a double high off the left-field wall that would likely have scored anybody except Thomas.

But because it was Thomas on first, he hobbled over to third, and the two runners were stranded when Nick Swisher and Bobby Kielty popped up on the infield to end the inning.

Lowry kept pitching out of trouble. The A's loaded the bases with one out in the third on a single, double and walk, but the only run scored on Eric Chavez's infield groundout — the only run of the game, as it turned out.

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