Barry Bonds continues his chase of history and the San Francisco Giants continue their chase of the National League’s best record as they play the middle game of their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bonds hit his 657th career homer Friday as the Giants beat the Dodgers 6-4 in the opener of the three-game set. The star outfielder is three homers behind Willie Mays, his godfather, for third place on baseball’s career list.
Bonds, who owns baseball’s single-season record with 73 homers, has 44 this season, tied with Alex Rodriguez for the major league lead.
The Giants have other business to attend to besides Bonds’ quest, as they are trying to get home-field advantage in the playoffs. The way they are playing on the road, they might not need it.
San Francisco, which opened a six-game road trip Friday, has won eight of its last 11 road games. The Giants have the third-best road record in the National League, behind Atlanta (44-34) and Chicago (41-35).
Despite that success, San Francisco’s goal is to play as many playoff games as possible at Pacific Bell Park. To do so, the Giants will have to catch the Braves, who they trail by one game for the NL’s best record.
Besides improving their own playoff situation, the Giants can also help make sure the bitter rival Dodgers don’t have a postseason.
The Dodgers’ loss dropped them three games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL wild-card race with 10 games to play.
“We aren’t done,” Los Angeles manager Jim Tracy said. “Tomorrow is another day and tomorrow looms even larger than tonight.”
The good news for the Dodgers is that Hideo Nomo is scheduled to start for them Saturday. Nomo has won 11 of his last 13 decisions against the Giants and is 13-4 lifetime against them in 19 starts, easily his best mark against any opponent.
STANDINGS: Giants - 1st place, NL West. Dodgers - 2nd place, 13 GB, NL West.
GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Kirk Rueter (8-5, 4.83 ERA). After struggling in his first three starts following a trip to the disabled list, Rueter is 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his last two. The left-hander is 24-9 with a 3.75 ERA in 48 career September outings. He is 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 26 games against the Dodgers.
DODGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Nomo (16-11, 2.88 ERA). Nomo snapped a two-start losing streak by holding San Diego to two runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory on Sunday. He is 2-1 against the Giants this season.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Giants - Bonds, .342 avg., 44 HRs, 87 RBIs and 107 runs; Eric Young, 27 SBs. Dodgers - Paul Lo Duca, .277 avg.; Jeromy Burnitz, 29 HRs; Shawn Green, 79 RBIs and 79 runs; Dave Roberts, 40 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Giants, 9-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Giants - Bonds is batting .333 (7-for-21) lifetime against Nomo with two homers and four RBIs. … The Giants are 49-21 against NL West opponents, the best intradivision record in the majors. … Rueter is 63-32 on the road for a .663 winning percentage, second to Boston’s Pedro Martinez (.726) among active pitchers with at least 65 road decisions. Dodgers - The Dodgers have scored 12 runs in Nomo’s 11 losses this season. … Green tied a career high with his 47th double. The Dodgers’ all-time record is 52 by John Frederick in 1929. … The Dodgers are just 12-20 against the Giants in the last two seasons.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Giants - 40-35 on the road; Dodgers - 45-34 at home.
INJURIES: Giants - RHP Jesse Foppert (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 60-day DL. Dodgers - OF Brian Jordan (knee), 60-day DL; LHP Troy Brohawn (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Darren Dreifort (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Alfredo Gonzalez (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Derek Thompson (elbow), 60-day DL.