San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds drove in his first run of the season Thursday, but his off-field troubles overshadowed the accomplishment.
Amid increasing controversy, Bonds looks to continue producing as the Giants open a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
Bonds singled in his first run of the year in the seventh inning in the opener of a doubleheader against Houston on Thursday, a 5-3 win for the Giants (5-3). He also had two deep flyouts, but remained stuck on 708 homers—seven shy of Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list and 47 behind Hank Aaron.
Bonds, who is hitting .188 (3-for-16), has not gone this far into a season when healthy without a homer since 1998, when he didn’t hit one out until San Francisco’s 13th game.
However, Bonds’ chase of the all-time home run mark took a back seat Thursday to reports that a federal grand jury is investigating whether he committed perjury when he testified in 2003 that he never used steroids. A source with knowledge of the probe confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday night that the panel has been hearing evidence for more than a month about whether he lied to a grand jury that was investigating the BALCO scandal.
Bonds has been under increased scrutiny over steroids use since last month’s release of “Game of Shadows,” a book detailing his alleged longtime regimen for using performance-enhancing drugs. The publication of the book prompted Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to launch an investigation into past steroid use in baseball.
Bonds, who did not play in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader, left the ballpark without answering questions about the report. When asked what he would tell his fans, Bonds responded, “Tell them I love them.”
Moises Alou hit his 300th career homer in the first game, becoming the 112th player to reach the plateau and the first Giants player since Bonds in 1996. The 39-year-old right fielder also sat out the second game, an 8-1 loss, and Mike Matheny and Omar Vizquel were not in the starting lineup.
Brad Penny will look to keep Bonds from moving any closer to Ruth. The 27-year-old right-hander has won both of his first two starts this season, compiling a 1.50 ERA.
Penny allowed one run and four hits in seven innings of a 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in the finale of a doubleheader on Sunday. He went 7-9 with a 3.90 ERA last season after damaging a bicep nerve late in the 2004 season.
Penny is 0-1 with a 3.69 ERA in eight career starts against the Giants. Bonds is 5-for-11 with three homers and three walks against him.
Penny will face Jamey Wright, who won his Giants debut on Saturday in a 12-6 victory over Atlanta. Wright, a non-roster invitee to spring training who spent the last two seasons in Colorado, gave up four earned runs and five hits in seven innings.
Wright is 3-8 with a 4.53 ERA in 18 career appearances, including 15 starts, against Los Angeles (5-5).
The Dodgers have won three of five, including Thursday’s 13-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cody Ross, who started only to give regular right fielder J.D. Drew a day off, hit a grand slam and a three-run homer in consecutive at-bats.
Ross’ slam was his second career homer—his first was a grand slam for the Tigers on Sept. 2, 2003, against the Indians. However, with Kenny Lofton set to come off the disabled list soon, Ross could be sent to Triple-A. He would have to pass through waivers first.
Olmedo Saenz also homered for Los Angeles, which got 52 hits in the series and at least 11 in each game. The Dodgers lead the majors with 118 hits.