After taking the series opener 9-1 to climb within five games of the Chicago Cubs in the NL wild-card race, the Marlins were deadlocked with San Francisco in the 10th inning Wednesday night.
McKeon opted to walk Bonds intentionally to load the bases in the 10th before pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski walked on four pitches to force in the tiebreaking run as San Francisco pulled out a 6-5 victory.
The Giants remained just one game behind Chicago for the wild card, but the Marlins, who had won their previous three, again fell six back.
“We’ve got to win as many games as possible,” Florida reliever Rudy Seanez said. “Losing any game stings, but a game like this in particular is hard to take.”
McKeon defended his decision to walk Bonds intentionally.
“You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t,” he said. “You can’t take a chance with that guy. He didn’t beat us with a walk. You’ve got to get the next guy out.”
Pierzynski walked for just the 14th time in 397 plate appearances.
Bonds leads the NL with a .367 batting average and 181 walks. He’s hit 35 home runs and scored 101 runs.
“He’s just that good,” Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis said. “He doesn’t have to swing the bat and he’ll still score four times. They feed off that. It’s like pick your poison.”
Beckett will get his chance to face Bonds on Thursday, making his sixth straight start since coming off the disabled list with blisters on his pitching hand. The hard-throwing righty gave up two runs and six hits while striking out six to earn an 8-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
Bonds is 1-for-2 with a home run and two walks in four career plate appearances against Beckett.