After breaking Willie McCovey’s San Francisco record for home runs, Barry Bonds is fast approaching Willie Mays for third place in major league history.
Bonds looks to move closer to Mays’ milestone and help the Giants extend their winning streak to nine games as they host the San Diego Padres in the opener of a weekend series.
Bonds helped San Francisco with his arm and bat within minutes on Thursday, making a run-saving throw in the top of the ninth and then leading off the bottom of the inning with his 646th career homer as the Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 for their eighth straight win.
The homer was his major league-leading 33rd of the season, giving him a San Francisco record 470 to pass McCovey (469). Bonds now needs 14 to tie Mays. Only Babe Ruth (714) and Bonds’ hero, Hank Aaron (755), have hit more in major league history.
“In spring training after watching (Bonds) for a month and a half I was already in awe,” said Giants second baseman Ray Durham, who had a pair of solo homers Thursday. “What he’s doing now, he’s in a league of his own.”
Bonds didn’t stick around long after the game to celebrate, rushing off to a hospital to visit his father, Bobby, who has lung cancer.
“My dad’s in the hospital right now and I’ve got to go,” Bonds said.
The Giants’ streak has taken place after the All-Star break, as they have swept four-game series from Colorado and Arizona while outscoring them 46-19.
“Every time we go on the field we definitely have a chance to win,” Durham said. “That’s the way we’re thinking right now. We enjoy coming to the ballpark. It’s fun.”
“The first at-bat I was tingling with the crowd,” said Nevin, who played in right field and went 1-for-3 with a walk. “It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been on a major league field since I came up as a rookie.”
San Diego won four straight before the loss.
STANDINGS: Padres - 5th place, 26 1/2 GB, NL West. Giants - 1st place, NL West.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Adam Eaton (5-7, 3.95 ERA). The right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in his last four starts, including an 11-pitch outing against St. Louis on July 13 when he was ejected for hitting slugger Albert Pujols with two outs in the first inning. Eaton is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in five career starts against the Giants.
GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Kirk Rueter (7-3, 4.46 ERA). The veteran left-hander, on the disabled list since July 9 due to a strained shoulder, is expected to be activated to make this start. Rueter is 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in his last six starts. He is 10-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 20 career starts against the Padres.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Padres - Mark Loretta, .315 avg. and 45 runs; Ryan Klesko, 20 HRs and 58 RBIs; Gary Matthews Jr., 8 SBs. Giants - Bonds, .329 avg., 33 HRs, 68 RBIs and 77 runs; Marquis Grissom, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Giants, 7-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Padres - 3B Sean Burroughs has missed two straight games due to a hip flexor. … 1B Klesko is 6-for-28 (.214) against LHP Rueter. … OF Rondell White is 5-for-10 with two homers against Rueter. Giants - Mays has the Giants’ franchise record with 646 homers. … The Giants posted consecutive four-game sweeps for the first time since 1994, when they beat Philadelphia from July 7-10 and Montreal from July 14-17 following the All-Star break. It’s only the fourth time they’ve done it since moving to San Francisco in 1958. … 2B Durham was on the Oakland Athletics last season, when they had a 20-game win streak Aug. 13 to Sept. 4.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Padres - 17-32 on the road; Giants - 35-15 at home.
INJURIES: Padres - INF Keith Lockhart (back), 15-day DL; OF Jason Bay (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Trevor Hoffman (shoulder), 60-day DL. Giants - C Benito Santiago (finger), 15-day DL; OF Marvin Benard (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Kurt Ainsworth (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Rueter (shoulder), 15-day DL.