Giants 4, Cubs 2
Dave Roberts drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the go-ahead run two batters after Bonds lined out in his lone at-bat, Zito won for the first time in seven starts and the Giants snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Bonds the pinch-hitter came to the plate in a situation when many a manager typically would have chosen to walk him rather than get beat by one of the game’s best players.
Tie game in the eighth. Two on. One out. Bonds the slumping slugger hit the ball hard with no results—and his funk extended to 0-for-21.
“They were bored ‘til I came out there,” said Bonds, who planned to also take Wednesday off from starting to give his sore legs another day to heal. “This one I felt good. Any time you have a good at-bat against a good left-handed pitcher, that’s when you know you’re really close.”
With Bonds on the bench for most of the night, Zito (7-9) struck out a season-high eight to win for the first time since June 4 at Philadelphia. The $126 million left-hander didn’t walk a batter for the first time in 38 starts since June 16, 2006, while with Oakland—a positive sign considering command was his biggest problem before the break. He ended a six-start winless stretch in which he dropped four straight decisions.
“Just got to keep it going,” Zito said, noting the difference Tuesday was “just making pitches. Keep on battling, keep on grinding.”
Bonds lined out to left on a 3-2 pitch, clapping his hands together as the fans screamed in delight and gave him a thumbs-down sign as he headed back into the dugout.
Bonds’ stretch without a hit is his longest since also going 21 hitless at-bats from April 5-12, 2001—the year he broke Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record with 73. He is two away from matching a career-worst 0-for-23 drought from July 6-20, 1986, his rookie year.
Bonds, who turns 43 next Tuesday, was in an 0-for-17 funk before hitting his 746th homer against the Rockies on May 27.
The Wrigley Field faithful jumped to their feet and booed lustily for close to a minute when Bonds emerged from the dugout to pinch hit. Cubs manager Lou Piniella changed pitchers, replacing loser Carlos Marmol (2-1) with lefty Will Ohman to face No. 25.
Bonds, disliked almost everywhere but San Francisco because of steroids suspicions, received another round of boos, chants of “Cheater! Cheater!” moments before his at-bat—but camera flashes could be seen from all sections of the stadium.
“That’s baseball. The crowd, that’s what they’re supposed to do,” Bonds said. “It’s fun, it’s exciting. Everybody gets pumped up for it. What can you say? If there is that kind of excitement to a stadium you’ve got to be doing something right.”
Derrek Lee hit his second homer in three games after a six-week power drought, tying the game at 2 with a solo shot to right in the sixth. But the Cubs saw the end of a four-game winning streak with only their fifth defeat in the last 21 games.
That spoiled the Cubs debut of catcher Jason Kendall, acquired in a trade with the Oakland Athletics on Monday night. He took an early flight Tuesday from the Bay Area in time to play against a pitcher he caught for two years with the A’s: Zito.
Zito got him to go 0-for-3, too.
Kendall received a warm standing ovation before he flied out to left in his first at-bat in the second. The fans changed their tune when Kendall wasn’t able to make a tough play at the plate on a throw home from left fielder Alfonso Soriano following Bengie Molina’s RBI single in the fourth that scored Vizquel.
The fans booed Kendall then, and again before he batted in the fourth. He missed what would have been a routine popup by Molina leading off the eighth, losing the ball in the lights and the fans hollered at him again—giving the 33-year-old Kendall no credit for traveling all day to arrive in time for the game.
“Definitely not the way I wanted to start out,” Kendall said. “I’ve had games like that before. … I never even saw that pop fly. I looked up and it came back. I should have had it.” Should have had the play at the plate. Kinda got an in-between hop but still.’
Kendall said he appreciated the way the fans greeted him at the start.
“You get chills. I don’t care how long you’ve been playing,” he said. “It’s special. It’s something I’ll remember. Very, very cool.”
The Cubs were trying to improve to six games over .500 for the first time since June 11, 2005, when they were 33-27.
This time, Zito was too good.
The nine losses before the break were a career high for the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner, but Zito has an impressive career record in the second half: now 60-27 in 109 starts in his eight major league seasons. Brad Hennessey allowed a leadoff double to Aramis Ramirez in the ninth before finishing for his sixth save in eight chances.
Bonds was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight game, admittedly exhausted and sore. He has played in 82 of the club’s first 91 games.
Kevin Frandsen started in Bonds’ spot in left field for the second straight day. The fans have been chanting “Barry’s backup!”
Roberts had his 10-game hitting streak snapped, missing a chance to set a new career high. His bases-loaded walk scored pinch-runner Fred Lewis.
“Walk of the season,” Giants reserve Mark Sweeney said.
The last time Bonds didn’t start in back-to-back games was June 5-6 at Arizona. He was dealing with shin splints, but also pinch hit in one of those. … The game drew 41,102, the largest crowd for a night game at Wrigley this year.