Bonds hits 67th homer

Giants slugger passes Sosa for 2nd most in one year, 3 off record

September 25, 2001|By CONTRA COSTA TIMES

LOS ANGELES - Barry Bonds' home run chase and his team's pennant race continue to intertwine, with him and the San Francisco Giants moving a step closer to their ultimate goals.

Bonds, after his two-homer game Sunday in San Diego, hit a seventh-inning shot off James Baldwin during the Giants' 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers last night at Dodger Stadium.

With the swing, Bonds became the second-most prolific home run hitter in a single season, with 67, moving ahead of Sammy Sosa. Next target: Mark McGwire and his record 70 homers set in 1998.

The win, meanwhile, moved the Giants to within 1 1/2 games of idle Arizona in the National League West. They also cut St. Louis' lead to two games in the wild-card race.

Bonds had been 2-for-28 at Dodger Stadium before hitting a liner just over the short right-field fence. It had been the only NL park in which Bonds has played that he had not homered in this season.

Bonds was facing Baldwin for the first time in his career. He had been pitched carefully to in three previous plate appearances, walking twice. Bonds has walked 157 times, and needs eight in his team's final 11 games to tie McGwire's NL record. Babe Ruth has the major-league record with 170 in 1927.

Bonds reached his homer total quicker than anyone is history, in the Giants' 151st game, 11 faster than it took McGwire.

His homer gave the Giants a 2-0 lead. Livan Hernandez allowed his only run in the bottom of the inning on an Adrian Beltre homer.

After Hernandez exited after giving up three hits and one run, Felix Rodriguez escaped a bases-loaded situation in the eighth.

Before the game, Bonds was again peppered with questions about his pursuit of McGwire's record. While again acknowledging that he was not consumed with the chase, he said he would allow himself to celebrate if he hit 71 home runs and broke the record.

"Seventy homers is a big number. I wouldn't jump to conclusions about what could happen between now and the end of the season," he said. "Anything could happen between now and then. I don't want to look forward to something that might not be there. ...

"If I do it, I'll be excited. I won't hold back on emotions, I guarantee you that. But right now we're in a quest to win a championship. If it means hitting a homer that's going to help the team win, that's my job. If it means taking a walk or stealing a base, that's my job."

Bonds was asked if he followed the McGwire-Sosa homer chase in 1998.

"We all did. Everyone did. We were mad if they didn't have it on the JumboTron [screen] during games and during [their] at-bats because we were all excited about it. It was something that you never thought would happen, and you've got two guys doing it at the same time. That was incredible, and they kept switching positions. One goes ahead of the other and the other comes back and hits two homers. It was almost like a Muhammad Ali boxing match."

Other topics broached in the latest of his pre-game news conferences:

On what he considers his most memorable homer this season: "Just my 500th. Looking back on my career, I never thought I'd hit 500 homers. I never thought I'd be around long enough to do that. I think that's the one I'll probably remember the most because it's 500 homers."

On whether he would feel a void in his life if he never played in a World Series: "I might have a little bit. I'm not ashamed of it. I know I worked very, very hard in my career to accomplish it. A World Series ring is won by a team. I've done a lot of individual things in my career. You have to be in the right place at the right time, and everything has to go your way."

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