Giants 3, Mets 1

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Barry Bonds earned the appreciation of his manager by staying in the lineup. He earned the appreciation of his teammates, too, for keeping the San Francisco Giants in playoff contention.

Bonds hit a two-run homer in the first inning to support a strong effort by Kirk Rueter and help the Giants beat the New York Mets 3-1 on Sunday.

There was some question whether Bonds would get the day off after playing all 12 innings of Saturday’s four-hour marathon.

“You just have to play,” Bonds said after hitting his 693rd career homer and 35th of the season to highlight a three-run first inning. “This is the time you have to step it up and play regardless of how you feel. Being in the race helps. There’s a little over a month left and you better dig deep.”

Giants manager Felipe Alou said Bonds had “tired legs,” but never asked out of the lineup.

“I forgot Barry played all 12 innings and got on base six times,” Alou said. “I’m glad I didn’t think about it or I might not have played him. He doesn’t feel that great but I appreciated him staying in the lineup.”

Bonds’ shot gave Kirk Rueter all the offense he needed. The ball landed in the back row of the right field bleachers, scoring Edgardo Alfonzo in front of him.

Bonds, who reached base seven straight times during the series, is 21 homers shy of tying Babe Ruth for second on baseball’s career list.

“We’re staying in it, even in the division race,” Bonds said. “There’s no dominant team and we’re keeping pace. Right now we’re being consistent.”

Rueter (7-9) allowed five hits in seven innings, his longest outing since pitching eight on May 7. He walked one and struck out one. Dustin Hermanson recorded the final four outs for his fifth save in six tries.

The Giants open a series at Florida on Tuesday.

“I didn’t want to have to get on a plane and fly five hours thinking about two straight losses,” Rueter said. “You want to do what you’re supposed to do. Yesterday was a rough day and I didn’t want to give up four or five runs early.”

Ray Durham led off the first with a homer as the Giants remained on top of the NL wild card chase by winning for the ninth time in 11 games.

Richard Hidalgo led off the fourth inning with a homer for the Mets, who lost their fourth in seven games to fall eight games behind the Giants in the wild card race.

Matt Ginter (1-3) pitched effectively for the Mets after the rough first inning. He gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings with two walks and three strikeouts.

“The first inning was the difference. Ginter threw great after that,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “He made a couple of mistakes, and gave up two home runs. The way Rueter pitched today, that’s all it took.”

Ginter, who became the 410th pitcher to allow a homer to Bonds, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day to make the start. He pitched against the Houston Astros 11 days earlier.

“You’re talking about one of the best hitters in the game and it’s a challenge every time you face him, even if there’s nobody on,” Ginter said. “I ended up walking the eighth guy twice today and pitched to him. He beat me the first time, I got him the next two.”

Durham has 32 career leadoff homers to put him one behind Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for sixth place on the career list.

Rueter allowed fewer than two runs for the first time since June 21, when he also allowed just one run.

Notes:

1B Craig Brazell was optioned to Norfolk of the International League to make room for Ginter. … Hidalgo has hit safely in 10 of 12 games. … Bonds scored his 100th run of the season, the 12th time he has reached the mark. … Giants 1B J.T. Snow missed his third game due to an infection in his right elbow. … Rueter has a four-game winning streak against the Mets.

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