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Bonds bombs away for No. 70

Posted: Friday, October 05, 2001

HOUSTON -- Barry Bonds took out all his frustrations on a belt-high fastball and with one big swing, No. 70 went sailing into the upper deck in right field.

Just when it looked like he had no chance Thursday night, Bonds tied Mark McGwire's home run record -- a feat even Big Mac thought might last a lifetime when he did it a mere three years ago.

Bonds, son of an All-Star and godson of a home run king, has three games left to make history all his own.

''It was electrifying,'' he said.

Given nothing to hit by Houston pitchers throughout the three-game series, Bonds finally got something he liked when led off the ninth inning. He did not miss, launching a 454-foot shot off rookie Wilfredo Rodriguez.

''I was happy I made contact. It's hard to just take pitches all the time,'' he said. ''You really don't have an opportunity to swing.''

Bonds immediately raised both arms in the air and began a slow trot around the bases. The record crowd of 43,734 at Enron Field, which had booed when Astros pitchers walked him, rewarded him with a standing ovation.

The Giants won 10-2, completing a sweep that kept them two games behind Arizona in the NL West race with only a weekend series left at home against Los Angeles.

Bonds' teammates poured out to greet him at home plate along with young Nikolai Bonds, whose 37-year-old father hugged him tight at the plate. Bonds then pointed to his wife and daughters behind the third-base dugout as he returned to the bench, smiling and waving his cap.

''Everybody was telling me just be patient, be patient. I'm glad it's over. I'm glad my family was here. My wife gets to sleep now,'' Bonds said.

''I got frustrated when it was 8-1 and they intentionally walked me because it was not a really crucial situation. That's when I got really frustrated,'' he said.

Until he homered, Bonds had singled twice in five at-bats and gotten eight walks in the series. He had 19 plate appearances, including 10 walks, and twice was hit by pitches since hitting No. 69 on Saturday.

It was nowhere close to his longest homerless drought, having gone 63 plate appearances and 14 games without one before the All-Star break.

As for the man whose record he tied, Bonds said: ''I have a lot of respect for Mark McGwire. For me, it is an honor to share this with him. He's a great home run hitter. He's always established power and strength. He put the record where it is.''

When McGwire finished with 70 home runs in 1998, it looked like that might become baseball's new magic number.

''I think it will stand for a while,'' McGwire said at the time. ''I know how grueling it is to do what I've done this year,'' he said. ''Will it be broken someday? It could be. Will I be alive? Possibly.

''But if I'm not playing,'' he said, ''I'll definitely be there.''

Bonds' 70th homer marked the second big achievement of the day in the majors. Earlier, Rickey Henderson of San Diego scored his 2,246th career run and broke Ty Cobb's record.

With fans still cheering, Bonds came out for two curtain calls. He took his position in left field to start the bottom of the ninth, was mobbed by teammates who were in the Giants' bullpen, then was replaced and walked off, waving to fans.

Bonds hit his 564th career home run, moving him past Reggie Jackson -- a distant relative -- for seventh place on the all-time list.

Padres 6, Dodgers 3

SAN DIEGO -- Rickey Henderson became baseball's career runs leader with a homer on Thursday, passing Ty Cobb with No. 2,246 and celebrating with a feet-first slide at the plate in San Diego's win.

The 42-year-old Henderson homered off the top of the left-field fence with one out in the third inning on a 93-mph fastball from right-hander Luke Prokopec (8-7) for his 2,998th career hit.

Padres rookie Jason Middlebrook (2-1) got the win.

Braves 6, Phillies 2

ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones drove in a pair of runs in a three-run first inning and Brian Jordan added a two-run homer in the seventh as Atlanta clinched a tie for the NL East title.

Cardinals 10, Brewers 3

MILWAUKEE -- Matt Morris (22-8) became the first St. Louis pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1970 to win 22 games as the Cardinals beat Milwaukee behind Mark McGwire's five RBIs.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 4

PHOENIX -- Reggie Sanders homered against Colorado for the 10th time this season as Arizona nudged closer to the NL West title.

Cubs 2, Reds 0

CHICAGO -- Todd Hundley hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning as Chicago beat Cincinnati.

Marlins 6, Expos 2

MIAMI -- Derrek Lee hit a three-run double and Kevin Millar drove in two runs as Florida beat Montreal.

Brad Penny (10-10) allowed four hits in six innings for Florida, which won its final home series 2-1. Penny, who has won three of his last four decisions, walked two and struck out one.

Masato Yoshii (4-7) allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings to lose for the fifth time in six decisions since June 14.



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