Giants 7, Diamondbacks 1

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Jim Brower has been far from the spotlight for most of his career, so he had no problem with Barry Bonds stealing the attention once again.

Bonds hit his 645th homer, and Brower pitched six scoreless innings as a fill-in starter in the Giants’ seventh straight victory, 7-1 over the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

Bonds tied Willie McCovey’s San Francisco Giants career record with a two-run shot to right off reliever Stephen Randolph in the sixth. It was Bonds’ 469th homer with the franchise, which moved to California from New York in 1958.

But Bonds’ 32nd homer—his second since the All-Star break—was just part of another impressive effort by the surging Giants, who increased their NL West lead over the Diamondbacks to a season-high 10 games while matching their longest winning streak of the season.

The most important part was Brower (7-2), a journeyman reliever who has plugged a hole in the Giants’ injury-plagued rotation with three remarkable performances this month. Brower was dominant against a team that pounded him for six runs in 1 1-3 innings just 10 days earlier.

Despite a strained muscle in his right calf, Brower allowed four hits and didn’t walk a batter. He retired the first 11 hitters he faced, never allowing a runner to reach third base.

After aggravating his calf while covering first base in the fourth inning, Brower shook off the San Francisco trainers and pitched two more innings before manager Felipe Alou yanked him as a precaution.

“I didn’t want to come out of the game because my calf is decent—and also because I wanted to save our bullpen,” Brower said. “Getting some pace on the ball was a little bit of a chore, but you do what you can.”

While Brower relaxed with a postgame root beer, Bonds had neither the time nor the inclination to reflect on his latest achievement on the eve of his 39th birthday.

“I can not speak to the media any more,” Bonds said while rushing from the clubhouse.

“Willie was a big home-run hiter, but this guy, I guess, is going to pass him any swing now,” said Alou, who played with McCovey. “ I know he’s playing tomorrow.”

Bonds beat out an infield single and scored in the eighth, and Yorvit Torrealba added a two-run single later in the inning. San Francisco, unbeaten since the break, has won nine of 11 against Arizona this season.

Arizona lost its season-worst fifth straight despite activating starters Danny Bautista and Rod Barajas from the disabled list before the game. The Diamondbacks made two key errors in the first inning, leading to a dispiriting loss and a somnolent clubhouse.

“There’s really not much else to say: We stunk tonight,” said Craig Counsell, who scored the Diamondbacks’ only run. “They have our number.”

San Francisco relievers Jason Christiansen, Joe Nathan and Scott Eyre pitched an inning apiece, and Eyre allowed an RBI single by Luis Gonzalez with one out in the ninth to break up the shutout.

The Giants (64-37) are just 2 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the majors’ best record.

Miguel Batista (7-5) had another good start for Arizona, striking out five during five innings of three-hit ball. But the Diamondbacks made errors on the first two balls put in play in the first inning, leading to two unearned runs for the Giants on Marquis Grissom’s single and Jose Cruz Jr.’s groundout.

“We made all kinds of errors early,” manager Bob Brenly said. “Miguel threw the ball as well as he ever has, and we couldn’t help him out.”

The Diamondbacks also made mistakes on the basepaths. Shea Hillenbrand got doubled off first base in the seventh when he sprinted to third on Steve Finley’s one-out fly ball.

Bautista and Barajas both returned to the Diamondbacks’ lineup after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day. Bautista went 1-for-3, andBarajas struck out three times.

Notes

Tennis stars Jennifer Capriati, Kim Clijsters and Lleyton Hewitt watched the game from seats near the Giants’ dugout. Capriati and Clijsters are playing in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford this weekend. Hewitt, Clijsters’ boyfriend, wore a Giants cap. … Reliever Chad Zerbe will start for San Francisco on Thursday. … Grissom had two hits. He’s 10-for-28 on the Giants’ homestand. … Nathan struck out the side in the eighth. All three batters were caught looking. … Willie Mays holds the Giants’ franchise record with 646 homers. Mel Ott had 511. … Cruz left the game after a collision while he tried to steal second base in the sixth. He has a mildly strainedneck.

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