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Giants hold half-game lead on Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds struggled to find the words to
describe his latest swing into history.

In truth, only the numbers could do it justice. With his 700th
homer, Bonds made it a three-member club and moved ever closer to
baseball's two greatest sluggers.

Bonds connected in the third inning of San Francisco's' 4-1 win
over San Diego on Friday night, leading the Giants to their sixth
straight win in the opener of their final nine-game homestand.

With a 392-foot solo shot to left-center, Bonds became the first
new member of the 700 club in 31 years, joining Babe Ruth and Hank
Aaron.

"It's just unbelievable," Bonds said. "You really can't put
it into words to be in a class with those two great players. It's
like you're dreaming and you're not dreaming. It's unbelievable,
it's unreal."

Bonds' 42nd homer of the season is another steppingstone in the
40-year-old's march toward Ruth's once-unthinkable 714 and Aaron's
imposing 755. Bonds hasn't been slowed by age, steroid suspicions
or the collective fear of pitchers and managers walking him with
record frequency.

Yet Bonds still clings to the hope of adding a World Series
title to his list of accomplishments, and this victory kept the
Giants (83-65) in front of the Cubs (81-64) by a half-game in the
NL wild-card race.

"I have game left, and it's just really hard to fathom that
I've hit 700 home runs and I can still play and still contribute,"
he said. "I just don't want to get satisfied, get too caught up
into it all. Right now, I really want to focus on completing my
career and, hopefully, coming back to the World Series."

As Bonds rounded second base, the Giants launched streamers and
an elaborate fireworks display from the scoreboard and light towers
in center field. He pointed skyward as he crossed home plate, then
took a curtain call to a joyous standing ovation.

With the victory, San Francisco also kept pressure on the
Dodgers, who lead the Giants by 2½ games in the NL West.
Third-place San Diego lost another chance to make up ground,
falling 6½ games behind Los Angeles.

Rookie Noah Lowry pitched 6 2-3 strong innings to remain
unbeaten in the majors. But Bonds dominated yet another night at
San Francisco's waterfront ballpark, which has seen more than its
share of history during the latter years of Bonds' career.

Bonds hit just one homer on the Giants' recent eight-game trip,
reaching 699 in Arizona. He got to work quickly back home: Instead
of dunking another homer in the kayak-infested waters of McCovey
Cove, Bonds went to the opposite field on an 0-1 slider from Jake
Peavy.

"The good thing is I get to sleep now and stop having
nightmares about this," Bonds said.

The ball landed a few rows deep in the stands, sparking a
celebration with fireworks, streamers, banners and several standing
ovations for the 40-year-old slugger.

"It's a tremendous accomplishment," said Expos manager Frank
Robinson, fifth on the list with 586 homers. "He's going to hit a
lot, lot more. A lot more. It's just a great achievement."

Bonds' 42nd homer increased San Francisco's lead to 4-0. He has
hit 79 homers against San Diego -- 18 more than any other opponent --
but manager Bruce Bochy promised to pitch to the slugger if game
conditions dictated it during the key three-game series.

"I hate to see something like this come against us in a game so
important," Bochy said. "But it's a terrific accomplishment.
There's a sense of history. He's maybe the greatest hitter ever in
the game."

Bonds finished 1-for-3 with a fly to right and a seventh-inning
strikeout against Peavy.

Bonds hit his 500th, 600th, 660th and 661st homers in San
Francisco. The 5-year-old park also was the site of his 73rd homer
in 2001, capping his single-season record.

Lowry also got a standing ovation when he left the game after
Rich Aurilia drove home the Padres' first run with a seventh-inning
double.

Lowry, an unassuming left-hander, allowed five hits and two
walks. he is off to the best start ever for a San Francisco
pitcher, surpassing Juan Marichal's 4-0 start in 1960.

"It's an honor to be part of this game," Lowry said.

The last Giants rookie to start 5-0 was Clydell "Slick"
Castleman, who did it in New York in 1935. Lowry's veteran poise
has been invaluable for the Giants, fighting for a playoff spot
despite a patchwork rotation.

After Dave Burba got four outs, Dustin Hermanson pitched the
ninth for his 14th save in 16 chances.

The Giants scored three runs in the first inning against Peavy
(12-6), who hit Bonds and J.T. Snow during the rally. A.J.
Pierzynski had a run-scoring single, and Marquis Grissom got a
sacrifice fly.

Peavy allowed eight hits and struck out seven in seven innings,
but couldn't overcome his rocky first. After going unbeaten in nine
starts this summer, Peavy has lost three of four.

Alex Gonzalez went 0-for-2 and played errorless defense at
shortstop in his debut with the Padres, who acquired him from
Montreal on Thursday to help out their injury-plagued infield.

Rookie Khalil Greene and Sean Burroughs are expected to miss the
rest of the regular season. Aurilia injured his ankle while
stepping out of his SUV earlier in the week, though he started at
third base.

Game notes
Peavy threw 121 pitches. ... Burroughs had arthroscopic
knee surgery Friday and he's done for the season. Greene broke his
finger Monday, but has a chance to return for the playoffs.