MILWAUKEE (AP)—Barry Bonds was lurking in the dugout with his body armor on and a bat in his hands, waiting to pinch hit.
But Bonds stayed put—and that was just fine with Francisco Cordero, who retired three straight San Francisco Giants hitters in the ninth inning Sunday to preserve the Milwaukee Brewers’ 7-5 victory and earn his major league-leading 31st save.
“I don’t think anybody wants to face Barry Bonds,” Cordero said. “He’s one of the greatest ever. Especially in the ninth inning of a close game. He can do some damage.”
It was the only victory for the Brewers in a three-game series against the Giants. But Brewers pitchers did get through the series without giving up a home run to Bonds, who rested on Sunday and is expected to resume his pursuit of Hank Aaron’s record at home in San Francisco on Monday night.
Bonds has 753 homers, two shy of tying Aaron’s record, and started just three of seven games on the Giants’ trip. He was 0-for-6 with three walks—one intentional—and two strikeouts in the first two games of the series in the city where Aaron started and finished his 23-year career.
Had Cordero allowed a runner to reach base, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he would have let Bonds bat on Sunday.
“Yeah, he was ready to hit,” Bochy said. “We just couldn’t get somebody on in the ninth.”
Bonds took the day off as the Giants’ other Barry had a tough time in Milwaukee. Ryan Braun and Corey Hart hit first-inning home runs off Barry Zito (7-10), who has struggled since signing a $126 million, seven-year deal to join the Giants in the offseason.
“He just got off to a rough start today, got the ball up,” Bochy said.
That’s nothing new for Zito, who has given up 21 first-inning runs in 20 starts. He also was roughed up early in his previous start in Milwaukee, giving up a grand slam to Bill Hall on June 20.
Braun deposited a 2-2 pitch in the left-field stands with a runner on first in the first inning for the rookie’s 15th home run of the season.
“He’s making it really, really hard to take him out of the lineup,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
Zito was asked if Braun might have spent a little too much time admiring his homer, but the pitcher wasn’t particularly put off.
“He’s young, he’s having some success,” Zito said. “He’ll learn how to put it in perspective.”
Zito, who allowed seven runs in 5 1-3 innings, has won once in his last eight starts.
“You’ve got to give the team a chance to win,” Zito said. “I held them down. A couple of base hits were the difference in the sixth inning.”
Bochy said Zito settled down as the game went on, even though he got in trouble again in the sixth inning.
“He’s going to be fine,” Bochy said.
Yost pinch hit for starter Claudio Vargas in the sixth, and Craig Counsell delivered a single against Zito to load the bases with one out. Vinnie Chulk got Rickie Weeks to pop up and Vizquel dropped the ball, but Weeks was out on the infield-fly rule.
Chulk gave up a two-out, two-run single to J.J. Hardy and an RBI single to Braun, putting the Brewers ahead 7-3.
Vargas (8-2) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. Asked if he was disappointed that he didn’t get to face Bonds, Vargas said, “Not really.”
The slugger began to stir with the Giants trailing 7-4 in the top of the eighth and runners on first and third with no outs.
The Chicago Cubs lost 3-0 to Arizona on Sunday, giving the Brewers a 3 1/2 -game lead in the NL Central going into a seven-game trip beginning in Cincinnati on Monday. The Brewers are 19-26 on the road this year.
“It’ll be a big series for us, again trying to play good baseball on the road,” Yost said.
Brewers CF Bill Hall is to begin a rehab assignment on Monday in the Arizona rookie league team. Hall has been on the disabled list since July 6 with a sprained right ankle. … Pedro Feliz led off the seventh with a solo homer that extended his hitting streak to 10 games, tying a career high. … Braun’s 15th homer came in his 50th game, making him the fastest player to hit 15 home runs in the major leagues since Albert Pujols (15 in 49 games) in 2001. … Durham was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of neck stiffness. He said he slept awkwardly and is expected to play Monday.