SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Barry Bonds’ feet hurt because he’s wearing spikes for the first time in almost a year and running again on the hard infield dirt. His tender knee stiffens up in the crisp Bay Area air. He spends all his time between innings having his leg rubbed in the training room.
Still, the slugger is thrilled with his first two games of the season.
“I feel pretty good,” Bonds said with a smile. “To not swing a baseball bat in almost a year, no spring training, and go to a college and hit in a cage for a week and come out here and face major league pitching … like I try to tell these guys, ‘If I give you a little, it’s a lot in this stage.”’
Bonds planned to sit Wednesday—as often has been his practice for day games following night games.
The first-place Padres (71-73) lost their fourth straight hours after manager Bruce Bochy called a team meeting before the game to clear up a few issues regarding the team’s inconsistent play.
Noah Lowry overcame baserunners in every inning on the way to the win, and Ray Durham hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the fifth for San Francisco, which is tied with Los Angeles, five games back of the Padres in the NL West race with 18 to play.
Bonds took a called third strike in the first inning and walked on four pitches in the third after Omar Vizquel reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Khalil Greene. Then came that familiar image of Bonds removing his protective armor and tossing it aside before slowly jogging to first.
Bonds drew a major-league record 232 free passes last season on the way to his record seventh NL MVP award. He lined a single to center in the fifth that chased Brian Lawrence, then walked again in the seventh before Jason Ellison entered as a pinch runner and came around to score.
The 41-year-old Bonds received another warm ovation on Day 2 of his comeback from three knee operations since Jan. 31. Bonds, third on the career home run list with 703, came in batting .476 with three homers and 10 walks in his career against Lawrence (7-15).
The fans aren’t the only ones getting a boost from seeing Bonds back on the field.
“It’s unbelievable to see,” Lowry said. “He brings a new piece of energy to this team. It’s only going to help us.”
Bonds favored his fragile right knee while playing left field, even rubbing his leg between batters. He doubled Monday night in his first at-bat in nearly a year.
Yes, Bonds right in there affecting games again, no matter what he does with the bat.
“That’s a great compliment if that’s the case,” Bonds said. “These guys are good. Everybody’s playing well. You just can’t take two days and two games right now and start riding the white pony. You’ve got continue on. If we’re going to make a run at this, we’ve got to continue winning. There’s no looking back.”
Matheny’s fourth-inning double tied the game at 3. He also doubled in the second.
Robert Fick hit a solo homer in the ninth, and Eric Young had three hits with an RBI double and also scored a run for the Padres, who could become the first team to win a division with a record under .500.
Bochy is concerned with San Diego’s sputtering offense, which has managed only 11 runs during the four-game skid.
“We’re disappointed we haven’t played better ball on this trip,” Bochy said. “It was by no means a kind of sense-of-urgency type of meeting or anything.”
The Padres also held a major meeting on April 27 during the team’s first trip of the year to San Francisco, then San Diego went 22-6 in May.
Lawrence had won four of his previous five decisions against the Giants, including his seventh career complete game on May 27.
Lowry (13-12), the NL pitcher of the month after a perfect August, bounced back after having his six-start winning streak stopped in his last outing, a 5-3 loss to the Cubs on Thursday.
Lowry allowed nine hits and three runs. Armando Benitez finished for his 14th save.
For the second straight night, the Padres blew it after taking a lead in the first. They lost 4-3 in Monday’s series opener after going ahead 3-0 after one inning.
The Padres won’t deny they’re having a hard time with Bonds.
“We said he would make a difference and that has been the case,” Bochy said.
Bonds drew his first walk in his sixth at-bat of 2005. … When Bonds struck out swinging in the seventh Monday night, it marked the first time he struck out by swinging and missing on three pitches since Aug. 26, 1998, against the Mets’ Hideo Nomo in a loss to New York at Candlestick Park, according to STATS Inc. … Giants ace Jason Schmidt could pitch as soon as Saturday if his pulled right groin improves in time. He threw a light session off the mound Tuesday to loosen up his arm and may attempt a full bullpen Wednesday. … The Padres activated RHP Pedro Astacio from the 15-day DL, and he is to start Saturday against Washington.