Bonds could be back in the lineup for a series in which the Giants can virtually end any doubts about them winning the NL West, opening a four-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
San Francisco has gone 4-2 since Bonds went on the bereavement list following the death of his father Bobby. The team dropped four in a row the first time Bonds left the Giants two weeks ago to be with his ailing father, who died of cancer on Saturday. Though the funeral was Thursday and Bonds is expected to be back for this series, the team has yet to announce exactly when the slugger will return.
The Giants have won all four games in which Bonds has played in the past two-plus weeks, with the slugger hitting game-ending homers in two of them. Bonds has six home runs in 14 games this month to put him within one of his fourth consecutive 40-homer season.
With his major league-leading 39 homers this season, Bonds has reached 652 for his career to pull within eight of his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the all-time list.
Winning three or four of the games in this series against their closest pursuers in the NL West would seem to wrap up the division title for the Giants. They stand 11 1/2 games ahead of the Diamondbacks with 30 remaining.
Arizona has not helped its playoff cause of late, losing eight of 13. The Diamondbacks also failed to gain ground in the tight NL wild-card chase by dropping their previous two games to the last-place San Diego Padres.
“It’s just another opportunity by the wayside, and we haven’t done a very good job of taking care of our own business,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said after Wednesday’s 10-2 loss to the Padres.
STANDINGS: Giants - 1st place, NL West. Diamondbacks - 2nd place, 11 1/2 GB, NL West.
GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Kirk Rueter (7-4, 4.50 ERA). Due to shoulder problems, this will be just Rueter’s third start since July 8. He lost 7-4 to Florida on Sunday in his first outing in a month, getting tagged for five runs and six hits over six innings. The left-hander is 7-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 17 career starts against Arizona. In his only outing against the Diamondbacks this season, he gave up three runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 6-5 win on May 20.
DIAMONDBACKS PROBABLE STARTER: Miguel Batista (8-7, 2.94 ERA). Batista snapped a six-start winless streak Saturday, allowing two unearned runs and five hits in six innings of a 13-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. It was the right-hander’s first victory since July 18 and first at Bank One Ballpark since June 24. However, Batista is 0-3 with a 5.03 ERA this year against the Giants, the only team to which he’s lost more than once.
SEASON SERIES: Giants, 10-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Giants - Right-handed batters are hitting .321 against LHP Rueter. … LF Bonds has four homers in 23 career at-bats against RHP Batista. … Giants pitchers have allowed the opposition to score more than four runs only once in the last 13 games. Diamondbacks - RHP Batista is 3-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 19 career games against San Francisco. … INF Alex Cintron has recorded at least two hits in eight of his last 13 games. … Arizona’s only two wins against the Giants this year came at Bank One Ballpark.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Giants - 34-33 on the road; Diamondbacks - 39-28 at home.
INJURIES: Giants - 2B Ray Durham (hamstring), 15-day DL; 1B J.T. Snow (groin), 15-day DL; OF Marvin Benard (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Jesse Foppert (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 15-day DL. Diamondbacks - 1B Mark Grace (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Koplove (shoulder), 15-day DL.