Barry Bonds’ first road game as the new all-time home run hitter comes in what could be his last visit to the city where he started his career in 1986.
Bonds and the Giants start a 10-game road trip on Monday by meeting the Pittsburgh Pirates to make up a doubleheader that was rained out on April 15.
The twinbill comes after Pittsburgh (48-66) completed its first road series sweep since the opening series of the season with a 5-0 victory over the Giants (49-67) on Sunday. Tom Gorzelanny pitched a five-hitter for his first career complete game, and Josh Phelps had a triple, homer and four RBIs.
Bonds singled in three at-bats Sunday to close out a seven-game homestand that saw him surpass Hank Aaron’s record 755 homers, and add to the new all-time mark by hitting two more. His 758th was a three-run shot Saturday against former teammate Matt Morris, but the Giants lost 8-7.
San Francisco - which owns the second-worst record in the NL by one percentage point over Pittsburgh - is 10-12 this year when Bonds homers and a dismal 34-46 when he doesn’t.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday the 43-year-old left fielder probably won’t start either game in Pittsburgh, though the Pirates have planned a tribute to their former leadoff hitter, who hit 89 homers in 539 games at Three Rivers Stadium - the most he’s had in any ballpark outside San Francisco.
In 14 games after PNC Park opened in 2001, Bonds has gone deep seven times in only 39 at-bats. On April 13, the seven-time NL MVP homered twice in the Giants’ 8-5 win.
It was the first of Bonds’ two multihomer games this season, leaving him one short of Babe Ruth’s record 72. Bonds also needs one double to become the 14th player with 600 for his career.
He’s homered off a record 448 pitchers in his career, and could add to that total against Paul Maholm (7-14, 4.59 ERA), who starts the opener for Pittsburgh, and rookie Shane Youman (2-3, 4.76) the nightcap.
Facing Arizona on Wednesday, Maholm lost his second straight start after he was tagged for six runs - four earned - and seven hits with four walks in five innings of a 10-6 loss.
“I felt way better in this start than I have in a while,” Maholm told the Pirates’ official Web site. “It just didn’t work out … Maybe I overthrew. It was just one of those days when the offense did their job and I couldn’t hold it.”
Youman beat Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs at home in his first two starts since being recalled from the minors on July 2, but is 0-3 with a 5.73 ERA in four starts after the All-Star break. He hasn’t pitched since Aug. 2, when he lasted five innings in Pittsburgh’s 5-4, 11-inning win over St. Louis.
This will be Youman’s first start against the Giants.
Pitching for San Francisco in the opener, Matt Cain (4-12, 3.77 ERA) will try to follow up a stellar start on the mound and at the plate as he makes his first career start in Pittsburgh.
After Bonds hit his 757th homer to give San Francisco a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Washington on Wednesday, Cain followed with the first of his career in the fifth. The right-hander also earned his first win in six starts when he limited the Nationals to three hits with a walk and three strikeouts in the Giants’ 5-0 win.
Cain was 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA in three starts from July 13-23, but received only one run of support in that span. In three starts since then, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.21 ERA and he’s gotten nine runs of support.
Cain, who was 13-12 a year ago in hist first full major league season, made his only career start against the Pirates on June 8, 2006 in San Francisco. He lasted only four innings and allowed three runs and seven hits with four walks, but didn’t factor in the decision in a 5-4 win.
Noah Lowry (12-7, 3.32) will start the second game for the Giants. This will be the left-hander’s first start since facing San Diego on Aug. 5 when he left after three innings due to forearm tightness and was skipped in his next appearance as a precaution.
In his last three starts, Lowry has allowed just three runs in 16 2-3 innings, but also has walked 10 and is third in the NL with 72 behind Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs (75) and Arizona’s Doug Davis (76).
Lowry, who is trying to equal his career high for wins in a season set in 2005, is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA in three career starts versus the Pirates.