Giants 10, Astros 1

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HOUSTON (AP)—The San Francisco Giants completed their first three-game series sweep of the season with Barry Bonds on the bench.

The slugger received some much-needed rest, and watched Ray Durham hit a three-run homer and single in a run for a season-high four RBIs and Matt Morris win for the first time in seven starts in a 10-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Pedro Feliz, who has played every inning this season for the Giants, hit a two-run homer and a run-scoring single to give him 10 RBIs in the series.

Mark Sweeney doubled and drove in three runs and a Giants offense that had been so stagnant at times is suddenly clicking. San Francisco outscored Houston 34-5 in the three games, jumping to big leads each day on the way to matching its longest winning streak of the season of three games.

Bonds remained the buzz of the ballpark a day after being plunked by Astros reliever Russ Springer—and he wasn’t even in the starting lineup.

Springer? He was out of the state.

Major League Baseball on Wednesday had already begun reviewing Bonds’ at-bat leading off the fifth inning Tuesday night against Springer, in which the pitcher’s first offering sailed behind Bonds’ back to draw a warning from plate umpire Joe West.

The next four pitches all came inside, including one that caromed off Bonds’ bat handle on the third delivery for strike one. On the fifth pitch, Springer hit Bonds in the right shoulder as he turned to protect himself.

After being ejected, Springer left to a standing ovation—something that deeply disturbed Giants manager Felipe Alou.

“It bothered me a lot, because a lot of children were watching,” Alou said. “Find another way to express your feelings, whatever they are—not in front of millions of people.”

Bonds, meanwhile, barely reacted to being hit, calmly taking first base without a word or a glance toward the right-hander. Springer took off immediately after the game to be with his wife when she underwent surgery Wednesday morning in Louisiana.

“It’s under investigation. That’s all I’ll say,” Bob Watson, baseball’s vice president for on-field operations, said in a phone interview. “I’ve had 45 calls today to see what I was going to do.”

Bonds didn’t address it with the media after the game or again beforehand Wednesday, when he entertained himself by playing cards with trainer Greg Oliver—perhaps a brief distraction from the pressure surrounding his pursuit of Babe Ruth.

The chase resumes Friday at Oakland, and Bonds should be fresh following an off day.

The seven-time NL MVP was stalled at 713 homers, one shy of tying Ruth for second place on the career list behind home run king Hank Aaron’s 755. Bonds is homerless in eight games and 26 at-bats since a 450-foot shot to right at Philadelphia on May 7.

Bonds had played eight straight days, his longest stretch in the starting lineup without a break since playing 10 consecutive days from June 18-27, 2004, though he was available to pinch hit in the finale of a three-game series with Houston. Alou expects Bonds to play designated hitter in all three games against the A’s.

Astros manager Phil Garner said he didn’t expect the Giants to retaliate and reiterated that he believes Springer did not intentionally hit Bonds.

Morris (3-4) certainly couldn’t afford to get in trouble.

The right-hander, in his first season with San Francisco, received a fine last month along with pitching coach Dave Righetti for their actions during a game at Colorado a day after Jose Mesa plunked San Francisco shortstop Omar Vizquel.

Morris was fined for intentionally throwing at Matt Holliday in the first inning. The right-hander was ejected after throwing only eight pitches and plunking two of the five batters he faced.

This time, Morris pitched eight strong innings after losing his previous four decisions and also added a pair of singles. He allowed one run and three hits, struck out four and walked three in a 118-pitch performance.

Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey made a visit to the mound in the first inning for the third straight night after Houston’s starters fell behind in a hurry.

The way this series went for the defending NL champions, thousands of fans had to be hoping for a return from Roger Clemens—not to mention the Astros finding some offense.

Fernando Nieve (1-2) was knocked out of the game after 3 2-3 innings.

Orlando Palmeiro hit an RBI single in the second for Houston. Garner used Palmeiro in right field in place of struggling Jason Lane in a move to try to generate more offense, but the Astros lost for the 10th time in 13 games.


In the three games, San Francisco scored nine total runs in the first inning. … All three Houston starters in the series failed to make it through the fourth inning. Reliever Trever Miller struck out the side in the fifth, one of few bright spots for Houston pitchers. … Morris has 68 career hits, three this year all against the Astros. … Feliz hit his ninth homer of the year. … The Giants batted around in each game. … The teams don’t play again this season. … Alou understands that pitchers plunking batters is part of the game, but thought many in the crowd of 35,286 disrespected baseball.

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