LOS ANGELES -- Barry Bonds' 67th home run did more than put him within three of Mark McGwire's major league record. His solo shot won the game.
Livan Hernandez pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 Monday night in the opener of the three-game series.
''That's what we play for -- wins,'' Bonds said. ''It'll be fun if we win the next two.''
McGwire set the single-season record of 70 homers three years ago. Bonds was 1-for-3 with two walks, one intentional, and the homer off James Baldwin (2-5) in the seventh inning.
''Barry will probably win the MVP this year, especially with the amount of homers he's hit that meant something,'' Giants manager Dusty Baker said. ''That bears a lot of weight with me. It's not only numbers, but when you hit them.''
Baldwin intentionally walked Bonds in the fifth before pitching to him in the seventh. Baldwin's first pitch was a slider, followed by two fastballs. Bonds connected on a 91-mph fastball.
''I made a mistake and he made me pay for it,'' Baldwin said. ''That's why he's got 67 home runs. But we've just got to keep attacking him.''
The homer came in the Giants' 151st game. McGwire hit his 67th in St. Louis' 162nd game. The Cardinals played 163 games that season because one game was suspended by rain.
The Giants moved within 1 1/2 games of idle Arizona in the NL West and two behind St. Louis in the wild card race. The Dodgers are 4 1/2 back in the division and five behind in the wild card.
Astros 9, Cardinals 3
HOUSTON -- Lance Berkman and Moises Alou had two RBIs apiece in a seven-run fifth inning as Houston beat St. Louis to extend its lead in the NL Central to 5 1/2 games over the Cardinals.
Houston's magic number for clinching their fourth division title in five years is seven. The Cardinals are the only other team to win the NL Central in that span, doing it last season.
Marlins 1, Braves 0
MIAMI -- Ken Caminiti grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded and Atlanta lost to Florida to drop into a tie with Philadelphia for first place in the NL East.
The Marlins scored in the second inning on catcher Javy Lopez's throwing error. Brad Penny (9-9) and two Florida relievers made it stand up, blunting the Braves' bid for a second straight ninth-inning comeback.
Pirates 7, Cubs 6
PITTSBURGH -- Gary Matthews Jr., waived by Chicago last month, hit a tiebreaking homer off Scott Chiasson (0-1) in the eighth inning and Pittsburgh rallied from five runs down for the win.
It was the second tough loss for the Cubs in as many games, and came after Kerry Wood squandered a 5-0 lead in the sixth inning. The day before, the Cubs wasted Sammy Sosa's three homers in a 7-6 loss at Houston.
Rockies 15, Padres 11
DENVER -- Rickey Henderson closed in on two major milestones, but Larry Walker went 4-for-4 with two homers and five runs scored to lead Colorado over San Diego.
Henderson was 4-for-5 with three runs scored, leaving him three runs short of tying Ty Cobb's major league record of 2,245 and seven hits shy of 3,000. Henderson also hit his 500th career double.
The Rockies scored in all eight innings -- they didn't need to bat in the bottom of the ninth. Walker raised his major league-leading average to .353, Todd Helton hit his 44th homer and drove in four runs and Juan Uribe had four hits and three RBIs for Colorado.
Peninsula Clarion ©2014. All Rights Reserved.