Move over Babe… you’ve got company.
After going nearly two weeks without a homer, Barry Bonds broke out of his slump in a big way and the Giants scored two runs in the top of the 10th Saturday afternoon as San Francisco defeated Oakland 4-2.
Leading off the bottom of the second with the Giants trailing 1-0 and A’s starter Brad Halsey pitching, Bonds snapped a 29 at-bat homerless streak belting his 714th career homerun, a majestic blast into the seats in right center, to tie Ruth for second on the all-time list.
"This is a great accomplishment because of Babe Ruth and what he brought to the game of baseball and his legacy," Bonds said. "I think this and a World Series ring would be the ultimate. You can't say enough of what he did and it's an honor to be in the same class."
The historic homer almost went for naught, as the Giants nearly let another victory slip away. Clinging to a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth, manager Felipe Alou sent Jason Schmidt to the mound to try and close it out despite the fact that the ace right-hander had thrown close to 115 pitches.
Schmidt led off the inning issuing a walk to A’s slugger Eric Chavez, and with one out, Bobby Crosby lined a single to left putting runners at first and second. Alou then summoned closer Armando Benitez from the bullpen to try and secure the victory. Benitez (2-0) immediately ran into trouble as Jay Payton smoked a single to center scoring Chavez to tie the game at two, denying Schmidt his fourth victory of the season.
Despite his struggles in the ninth, Schmidt turned in his fifth straight outstanding outing scattering seven hits and allowing two runs in 8 1/3 innings.
Giants Catcher Mike Matheny was disappointed at the turn of events saying, "It could have played out a little better," he said. "I hate to see a starter not get the win he deserves," said the veteran. "Jason pitched a great game for us -- we should have finished that out and given him the win. Any time you get a win, you can be excited.”
San Francisco would not be denied on this day however, as they came storming back in the 10th. Facing reliever Kiko Calero (0-1), Omar Vizquel led off the inning with a walk and then went to third when Pedro Feliz blooped a base hit to left. Following an intentional walk to Bonds to load the bases, Ray Durham singled to right knocking in Vizquel. Steve Finley came to the plate next hitting a sacrifice fly to deep right scoring Feliz as the Giants took a 4-2 lead.
However, A’s would not go quietly. In the bottom half of the inning, as Dan Johnson led off the inning with a single to left. After Benitez got Mark Ellis to pop out and struck out Nick Swisher swinging, Mark Kotsay walked, putting runners at first and second with two outs. Benitez would escape unscathed as Chavez flied out to deep right to end the game.
"What can I do? It's part of my job," Benitez said, happy that Alou allowed him to return in the 10th to close it out. "I appreciate what he did to me, because he showed me that confidence and believed what I could do.”
With the win, San Francisco improved to 4-1 on the current road trip and after struggling to begin the month they have won eight of their last 12 games. It was also the first victory over the A’s in Oakland since the 2004 season.
The Oakland kicked off the scoring early taking 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Mark Ellis led off with a single. With one out, following a base hit to right by Mark Kotsay, Erik Chavez singled to left; driving Ellis in.
Matheny drilled a solo homer to left, his third of the season, in the top of the seventh putting the Giants in front 2-1.
San Francisco will look to win the series Sunday afternoon as Matt Cain (1-5, 6.69 ERA) takes on Joe Blanton (4-4, 5.84 ERA) @ 1:05 pm
Game Notes: Lance Niekro missed his fifth straight game with a sore shoulder and could be headed to the DL….Jason Ellison got his first start of the season in left-field Saturday….
SFDugout.com Player of the Game: Barry Bonds hit his 714th career homer to tie the legendary Babe Ruth. Jason Schmidt continues his impressive pitching of late throwing 8 1/3 solid innings.
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