Yahoo! Sports: NL Wild Card Favorites
Bonds homered for the second straight game, giving him 729 for his career, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 7-4 on Sunday. He led off the eighth with his 21st homer, a drive to left-center off Les Walrond, making the Cubs reliever the 431st pitcher to surrender a homer to the Giants left fielder.
“That was a beautiful thing, that line drive,” Alou said. “It reminds me of three years ago, two years ago. It’s a beautiful swing. We have a very promising September with his swing.”
Shea Hillenbrand also homered to cap the Giants’ four-run fifth as San Francisco kept pace in the NL wild-card race. The Giants remained 2 1/2 games behind San Diego, which beat Cincinnati 2-1 on Sunday.
The Giants are tied with the Reds in the wild-card race and travel to Cincinnati for a three-game series starting Monday and then play host to the Padres next weekend.
Bonds, 26 home runs shy of Hank Aaron’s record of 755, has five in his last 11 games and is hitting .500 (16-for-32) during that span to raise his average from .235 to .263.
“We all know the situation of what he’s trying to do,” said Giants pitcher Jason Schmidt, who earned the win Sunday. “Having him in the lineup, doing what he’s doing now, he’s starting to get hot again and be the Barry of old. He’s really picked up our offense. It’s done a 180.”
Schmidt (11-8) gave up three runs in seven innings, giving up eight hits and two walks. He struck out five and threw 112 pitches and won his seventh straight decision over the Cubs since 2000.
Mike Stanton got the final four outs for his fifth save in seven chances. The Cubs had cut the lead to 6-4 when he came in in the eighth, but Stanton only faced three batters because Ronny Cedeno was caught stealing second with two on and two outs.
“That baserunning mistake took us out of the game in the eighth,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
Omar Vizquel had three hits, including a two-run triple in the fifth and an RBI triple in the ninth for the Giants.
“There was a feeling here that he would get the day off today,” Alou said. “I resisted that feeling.”
Reliever Michael Wuertz (1-1) allowed two runs and two hits without recording an out in the fifth.
With the Giants trailing 3-1, starter Angel Guzman left after walking Steve Finley to put two on with one out. Guzman then left the game with a cramp in his right forearm and Wuertz replaced him with a 1-0 count on Vizquel. The Giants shortstop hit a triple to right to tie it. Hillenbrand then hit his seventh home run.
“I think (Wuertz) tried to go up with the fastball and he missed on the plate a little bit,” Hillenbrand said. “I was able to do something with it. I was probably more shocked than anyone.”
Added Baker: “It basically boils down to a walk at the wrong time and then the home run.”
Bonds went 1-for-3 with his 105th walk of the season. He had limited chances of driving in runs, leading off the inning in three of four at-bats. He also walked after Hillenbrand’s homer.
Bonds popped up in his first at-bat and struck out in his second. Todd Linden replaced Bonds in left to start the bottom of the eighth.
Guzman gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the fourth with a successful suicide squeeze bunt that scored Cedeno.
The short-handed Cubs started rookie catcher Geovany Soto, who got his first major league hit in his first start, and used backup catcher Henry Blanco at first base. Blanco hadn’t played first in a game since Sept. 27, 1997, when he was with the Dodgers. This was his first start.
Guzman left with a cramp in his right forearm. He called for a trainer after a 3-0 count to Steve Finley, but stayed in, walking Finley on the next pitch. He called for a trainer again after one pitch to Vizquel.
“I’ve had this problem twice in Triple-A because of the humidity and the weather,” Guzman said. “But the doctors think maybe it’s normal. Cramps happen.”
He pitched 4 2-3 innings, gave up three runs and three hits in 4 2-3
Jones left the game in the top of the ninth because of an infection in his left eye’s tear duct had worsened, causing his eye to swell. He is day-to-day. … Pierre went 4-for-5 with a double. … Cubs catcher Michael Barrett was placed on the 15-day DL Sunday after undergoing surgery Saturday night for bleeding in his scrotum. He was injured by a foul tip in Saturday’s game. … Blanco was forced into action at first because John Mabry’s back has been bothering him, and Lee was scheduled for a day off.