Giants 5, Dodgers 4
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Barry Bonds never doubted he would hit a home run within a few days of his season debut.
He needed 11 at-bats after a season-long layoff to hit No. 704.
Bonds moved one homer closer to Hank Aaron’s record of 755 with a solo shot Friday night in the slugger’s fourth start of the year, and Todd Linden singled in the winning run with one out in the ninth to lead the San Francisco Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4.
“It’s good when you win. It just makes it a little more gratifying, that’s all it does,” Bonds said. “I can hit a baseball. I’ve never had any problems doing that. I’m trying to do it when we win games.”
Bonds, who missed most of the year recovering from three operations on his right knee since Jan. 31, sent a 1-0 curveball from Los Angeles starter Brad Penny into the seats in right-center in the first inning.
Pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee hit a tying two-run single in the eighth for the Dodgers, but Linden replaced Bonds and came up with a clutch broken-bat base hit to right off Duaner Sanchez (4-6) that scored pinch-runner Doug Clark from second. Clark ran for Edgardo Alfonzo, who drew a leadoff walk.
“I lost the game by walking the guy, but I don’t know how he hit that ball,” Sanchez said.
It was the 41-year-old Bonds’ first home run since a solo shot Sept. 26 last year against the Dodgers’ Jeff Weaver, a span of 355 days. When Bonds made contact, flashbulbs flickered from all directions and fans instantly jumped to their feet in SBC Park and started roaring.
Bonds is third on the career list, trailing only Babe Ruth (714) and Aaron. His homer gave the Giants a 2-0 lead and came three batters after Randy Winn led off with his career-high 15th home run.
He’s not ready to start thinking about passing Ruth.
“I’m not worried about that right now,” Bonds said. “If I can keep playing, it’ll happen. If I don’t, it won’t happen.”
Bonds’ first RBI of the season also moved him into a ninth-place tie on the career list with Carl Yastrzemski with 1,844.
“It was a curveball, a stupid pitch,” Penny said. “He hasn’t proven he can hit a fastball yet.”
Bonds hit a high popup to shortstop Oscar Robles in the fourth, then drew his first intentional walk of the year in the fifth with Vizquel on second following a two-run double. Fans waved their rubber chickens as is custom whenever Bonds gets a free pass—he drew a major league-record 232 walks in 2004.
Bonds popped out foul to the catcher leading off the eighth with the game tied at 4, then Linden replaced him in left field.
Bonds returned to the Giants’ starting lineup Monday in the opener of a three-game series against San Diego. He is expected to take Saturday’s game off because it’s a day game that follows a night game.
“We have to respect the fact he’s playing all those innings and getting all those at-bats,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “We believe he’s going to hit one every time up.”
Winn hit his second leadoff homer since joining the Giants on July 30 in a trade from Seattle. He also hit a leadoff shot last Thursday against the Chicago Cubs. This was the seventh leadoff homer of his career.
Winn, who hit for the cycle once this year, also doubled and singled twice.
“It’s a tough game to lose after the manner in which we came back,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. “One of the first things to stave off on the road is a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth. More often than not, it comes back to haunt you, and it did.”
Vizquel lined a double off the wall in right in the bottom of the fifth, but the bullpen blew it and Tomko’s winless stretch reached eight starts. The right-hander pitched 6 2-3 solid innings but hasn’t won since July 22 against Florida. He allowed eight hits, struck out six and walked one.
Willy Aybar, Hee-Seop Choi, Jeff Kent and Dioner Navarro each had two hits for Los Angeles, which fell back into a second-place tie with San Francisco, 5 1/2 games behind San Diego, which lost 5-1 to Washington.
RHP Yhency Brazoban made his 67th appearance to tie the Dodgers’ rookie record. … Winn hit 14 homers last season with Seattle and also in 2002 for Tampa Bay. … Giants RHP Jason Schmidt is penciled in to start Saturday, though he’s still nursing a pulled right groin. “I think he can make it based on what he’s done,” trainer Stan Conte said. “If he feels comfortable, I feel comfortable.” … Dodgers SS Cesar Izturis underwent Tommy John surgery on his troublesome right elbow, and the team hopes he will return at the All-Star break in 2006. … Ledee didn’t start for the second straight game with a hurt left hamstring and 1B Olmedo Saenz sat out with a strained left oblique muscle. … The Giants will hand out “I Was There” Bonds pins to all fans with a ticket stub for each homer he hits for the rest of his career at home. … Giants OF Jason Ellison returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 31 after healing his strained left oblique.