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Bonds hits solo shot in seventh off Ford

4/14/2004

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A day after catching his godfather, Barry
Bonds moved ahead of Willie Mays with another majestic homer.

This one had the same destination -- San Francisco Bay, of course
-- and strangely enough, it was retrieved by the same kayaking fan.

And though No. 661 didn't spark the same kind of celebration,
Tuesday night's shot was even more important. That's because only
Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are on deck now.

Bonds took sole possession of third place on the career home
runs list in the San Francisco Giants' 4-2 victory over Milwaukee.

In the seventh inning, Bonds hit a 1-2 pitch from right-hander
Ben Ford over the right-field arcade and into McCovey Cove.

Bonds savored the moment with his teammates and his family, but
said his 660th homer had more sentimental value, because it
"binded us all together" -- Bonds, Mays and Bobby Bonds, the
slugger's late father.

"(Mays) will always be my mentor," Bonds said. "He will
always be the one I look up to. He will always be the best baseball
player of all time. That isn't ever going to change.

"It's all about keeping it in the family. I have his blessing.
(Monday) was a relief, and now I've got to just go out there and
swing the bat and go after the next thing."

That would be Ruth and Aaron. If Bonds maintains his
unbelievable pace of the past four seasons, he could pass Ruth's
714 homers early next season, although it is more likely to happen in 2005.

"I don't probably know anything about Babe Ruth," Bonds said
playfully before reciting a list of Ruth's accomplishments. "I
know how he changed the game and the contributions he made to his
era. ... But right now, I'm just working on 662."

Bonds has said he can't imagine passing Aaron, who hit 755
homers. But to everyone else, there seems to be nothing Bonds can't
do.

"I've never seen a better player in my life," said former
Giants third baseman Matt Williams, who threw out the first pitch
at Tuesday night's game. "I don't think anybody changes the course
of a game like he does."

Bonds, who will turn 40 in July, hit 213 homers in the previous
four seasons, including a major league-record 73 in 2001.

He hit his 659th on opening day in Houston -- but as he usually
does, Bonds waited until returning home to San Francisco to hit his
most historic homers.

Bonds didn't really celebrate his 661st, calmly dropping his bat
and circling the bases as the sellout crowd stood and roared. After
touching home plate on the solo shot, he pointed into the stands at
his family.

"He looked like he wanted to cry when he was coming in,"
manager Felipe Alou said. "The emotions were different tonight for
that man. He's in some way thinking about his dad when something
like that happens."

But Bonds said he only thought about the Giants' two-run lead as
he rounded the bases. He took a short curtain call, and he got yet
another standing ovation when he took the field for the eighth
inning.

"I was trying to keep it down, put it in the dirt. It didn't
get down," Ford said. "I left it over the plate too much. It was
a mistake, and he capitalizes on mistakes. He doesn't miss too
often."

It was Bonds' 29th career homer into McCovey Cove -- where the
ball was retrieved by Larry Ellison, the same kayaker who got
Bonds' 660th and later gave it back to the slugger. Ellison said he
plans to keep this one -- and Bonds doesn't mind at all.

"Six-sixty was the one," Bonds said. "That's the one I'll
keep on my desk forever."

Bonds will get the day off Wednesday, though manager Felipe Alou
wasn't planning to decide until talking with the left fielder.

Marquis Grissom hit two homers for the Giants in their third
straight victory. Dustin Hermanson (1-0) held the Brewers to three
hits and one run while pitching into the sixth inning.

The San Francisco bullpen quelled an eighth-inning rally by the
Brewers, who lost their third straight to drop below .500 for the
first time this season. Matt Herges pitched the ninth for his fifth
save in six chances.

Grissom had his eighth career two-homer game, starting with a
two-run shot in the first inning that easily cleared the left-field
wall. He added a solo homer in the third off Chris Capuano (1-1),
who yielded seven hits and three runs over five innings.

"I just didn't want Marquis to have more homers than me at this
point in the year," Bonds said with a grin.

Former Milwaukee outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds got his first start
of the season for the Giants -- against Capuano, the pitcher who
broke Hammonds' thumb during a spring training game March 9.
Capuano walked Hammonds in his first two at-bats, and Hammonds
singled in the fifth.

Hermanson started well, retiring nine straight hitters after
Scott Podsednik opened the game with a single. Though Hermanson has
struggled to hold a major league job in recent months, he appears
to have a solid spot in San Francisco's rotation.

He also has a 1.75 ERA in his last eight appearances against
Milwaukee.

Game notes
For the first time this season, San Francisco scored first.
... Milwaukee's Geoff Jenkins went 0-for-4 and stranded five
runners, flying out to right with two on in the eighth. ... San
Francisco 2B Ray Durham left in the second inning with mildly
strained left quadriceps. He was hurt while lunging back to first
base on a pickoff attempt.