SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Barry Bonds took a seat in the dugout after his first home run trot of 2007 and hardly looked winded.
His legs feel great, he’s completely healthy—and ready to chase Hammerin’ Hank.
Bonds moved a step closer to Hank Aaron’s home run record Wednesday night, hitting his 735th homer in the first inning of the San Francisco Giants’ 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres, who got a tiebreaking two-run homer from Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth.
Bonds sent a 2-2 pitch from right-hander Chris Young into the first row of seats in left-center for a solo shot and a 1-0 Giants lead, pulling the slugger within 21 of passing Aaron’s 755.
“It’s not a countdown yet, not close enough yet,” Bonds said. “When it’s about 750, that’s when we can count down. Not any time soon. Hope it’s not the end of September. You can all leave and come back then.”
Moments after the homer, “735” flashed across the new high-definition scoreboard in center field and Bonds pointed to his daughter, Aisha, and Sue Burns, the wife of late Giants ownership partner Harmon Burns who was honored on opening day with a moment of silence.
Bonds also became the San Francisco leader for runs scored at 1,481, passing his godfather, Willie Mays’ 1,480. Bonds waved and tipped his cap when he came out to play defense in the top of the second.
Then in the third, he made a running catch with his glove outstretched on Brian Giles’ shallow fly along the left-field line, and Bonds’ momentum carried him all the way to the entrance in front of the San Francisco dugout. The 42-year-old slugger immediately dropped into a squat to catch his breath, then headed down the tunnel to recover from some tightness.
“That’s not that encouraging,” he said of the athletic snag. “I don’t want to do anything dumb. If there was another one, it would have dropped. I got a good jump. … My legs are fine. It’s my age that’s bothering me. Just a long run for somebody my age. I got a little tight out there. That was it. Nothing major.”
Bonds grounded out to second in the third—to chants of “Barry! Barry!”— flied out to center in the fifth and struck out swinging in the seventh.
Young became the 435th pitcher to surrender a homer to Bonds, who has hit 86 against the Padres for his most against any club. Bonds’ previous homer came 193 days earlier, on Sept. 23, 2006, against the Milwaukee Brewers. They repeated his shot and his trot on the big screen after the inning ended.
“Fastball away, just on the plate, but Barry is Barry,” Padres skipper Bud Black said. “He’s on the plate and if the ball is elevated a little bit he still has opposite power in this park.”
Bonds last homered in the Giants’ waterfront ballpark on Sept. 13 in a 9-8 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Manager Bruce Bochy appreciated Bonds’ defensive hustle.
“He made a great effort catching that ball, put us in the lead, and that’s what you’re hoping for,” Bochy said. “We just couldn’t hold on there.”
Marcus Giles hit a two-run homer in the fifth among his three hits and Khalil Greene added a solo shot in the inning for San Diego, which beat the Giants 7-0 in the season opener for both clubs Tuesday—the first opening-day shutout by the Padres in franchise history. Gonzalez homered deep into the right-field arcade off Jack Taschner, who relieved loser Brad Hennessey (0-1).
“I completely blew that spot,” Taschner said. “I let the team down with one pitch. A guy like Gonzalez, he’s not going to let mistakes like that pass.”
Cla Meredith (1-0) walked Klesko to load the bases but Dave Roberts, who tripled and scored in the third, grounded out to second. Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his first save, and the 483rd overall for baseball’s career leader.
Bonds isn’t ready to concern himself with his team’s 0-2 start.
“One pitch got us,” he said. “It’s nothing to worry about.”
Giants starter Matt Cain pitched six solid innings and allowed five hits and three runs, struck out six and walked one. Cain is beginning his second full big league season after a standout rookie campaign last year in which he led NL rookies with 13 wins and also had a rookie-high 179 strikeouts.
Young gave up three runs on six hits in 5 2-3 innings, struck out four and walked three and kept his unbeaten road streak alive. The right-hander went 6-0 with an NL-best 2.41 ERA on the road last season in 15 starts and is 9-0 with 16 no-decisions in his last 25 starts away from home dating to June 25, 2005.
“It’s luck, I’m telling you guys,” Young said. “I try to think the same way at home as I do on the road. This game is simple. It comes down to execution.”
Last year, it took the Padres until May 3 for a three-homer game. … Bonds didn’t hit his first 2006 home run until April 22 at Colorado, his 13th game, 50th plate appearance and 31st at-bat. … Bonds has 1,375 career RBIs, 13 shy of Willie McCovey’s San Francisco record of 1,388. … Roberts hit a career-best 13 triples last season. … Gonzalez finished 3-for-4. … The Padres will try for a three-game sweep Thursday.