Bonds shook off an early season slump and some chilly weather to hit his 736th and 737th career homers before being lifted in the fourth inning, helping Ortiz end a 12-game losing streak in the Giants’ 8-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Bonds, hitting .192 with one homer in 26 at-bats previously, hit a two-run shot down the right-field line in the second inning off Zach Duke and a deeper solo drive into the right-center stands in the fourth off Shawn Chacon. The 42-year-old Bonds needs 19 homers to break Hank Aaron’s record.
With the Giants up 8-2 by the fourth, Bonds was lifted following his 70th career multihomer game, two short of Babe Ruth’s record of 72. Manager Bruce Bochy pulled Bonds to keep his legs fresh for the long season.
“What a day he had,” said Bochy, whose team scored only 20 runs in its first nine games. “We’ve been trying to get this offense going and that’s what we needed.”
The 42-year-old Bonds spoke to reporters at length before the game during what possibly could be his final visit to Pittsburgh, where he played from 1986-92, but did not talk afterward.
“Everybody’s just here to watch and see what he can do,” Ortiz said. “That’s the fun part, when he starts hitting, because it brings everyone’s game up a little bit. It’s like, `Our big guy is hitting,’ and you feed off that.”
“He broke quite a streak, and he should feel great about that effort,” Bochy said. “We gave him the shot for the complete game, but we certainly don’t want that (Duffy homer) to take away from the game he pitched.”
Before the game, Bonds joked about his pursuit of Aaron’s record and the 3,000-hit mark—he is 151 hits away—by saying he would settle for three more hits. He needed only three at-bats to get them, even though he predicted he wouldn’t start warming up until the temperature hit 70. It was 49 at the start of the game and dropped from there.
Of Bonds’ 737 homers, 96 have been in Pittsburgh: 89 in Three Rivers Stadium and seven in 39 at-bats in PNC Park, which opened in 2001.
Bonds singled in the first run of a five-run first against left-hander Zach Duke (1-1), who followed the pattern of his 15-loss season of a year ago by getting into early trouble. Pedro Feliz added an RBI double and, after Randy Winn was intentionally walked to get to him, Ortiz helped himself with a two-run double off Duke on a 3-0 pitch.
No doubt Ortiz (1-1) was willing to do anything to break his 20-month losing streak, which dated to an Aug. 29, 2005, victory against San Diego while with Arizona. He was 0-8 last season with the Diamondbacks and Orioles and lost his first decision this season.
“I didn’t realize how long it is until people remind me of it,” said Ortiz, who returned to the Giants this season after winning 73 games for them from 1998-2002. “I was doing everything I could to go inning by inning. After five, I was thinking, `Well, at least now it’s an official game.”’
Ortiz allowed 10 hits, struck out seven and walked one. His losing streak lasted over 31 games and 16 starts, a stretch in which he gave up 75 earned runs in 86 2-3 innings.
Ortiz kept another streak going, Pittsburgh’s 0-4 home record—one that had some fans chanting, “Let’s Go, Pens” by the eighth inning. The Pirates have dropped six of seven since sweeping a three-game series in Houston.
“It was a tough night for Zach. He couldn’t get untracked and the game didn’t start good,” manager Jim Tracy said.
Duke, coming off two effective starts, was lifted after allowing seven runs and seven hits in two innings to jump his ERA from 3.46 to 7.20.
“It was bad,” he said. “It was pretty much everything. My fastball command wasn’t there and I was trying to find a way to get outs, and I couldn’t find anything that was working.”
Bonds’ two homers equaled the Giants’ output in their first nine games. … Bonds was coming off a 1-for-8 series against San Diego. … By winning, the Giants (3-7) avoided being 2-8 for the first time since 1982. They had dropped four of five. They also halted a six-game losing streak against Pittsburgh. … Pirates LHP John Grabow (elbow) was moved to Triple-A Indianapolis on a rehabilitation assignment. … Duke was the 436th pitcher to allow a Bonds homer. Bonds homered off Chacon twice previously. … Bonds’ four RBIs were as many as he had previously this season.