05/23/2002 00:40 am ET
Bonds catches Mac, passes credit
Giants slugger's 583rd HR ties for fifth on all-time list
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The accomplishment seemed noteworthy enough: Barry Bonds climbed another rung on the all-time homers ladder Wednesday night, matching Mark McGwire for fifth on the list with No. 583 of his career.
But the postgame celebration of the big blast was subdued, to say the least -- actually something less than a shrug of Bonds' big shoulders.
For Bonds, his 16th homer of the season was just another homer, and just one of many big hits by many different Giants in their 12-5 victory over their NL West rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
History will remember that his sixth-inning shot on a 2-2 pitch from lefty Eddie Oropesa raised him to a new level alongside Big Mac, and that the shot off the right-field foul pole put him only three homers from Frank Robinson's fourth-place total of 586.
But history won't record much of a reaction from Bonds on this night.
"Let the guys who won the game talk," Bonds said, walking away from a group of reporters.
Ladies and gentlemen, we now present a postgame press conference with Chad Zerbe.
Indeed, Zerbe was one of many Giants heroes Wednesday night. The left-handed reliever picked up the win by throwing three solid innings in relief of Jason Schmidt, who lasted only three himself in a rough start.
Zerbe had much more to say than Bonds, succinctly putting the victory -- which earned the Giants a split in their first series of 2002 against the defending world champions -- in perspective.
"Last year we lost to them by two games, so every game that we can get is very important," Zerbe said. "People say, 'It's May.' Yeah, it's May, but last year it was two games in September, so any game that we can pick up, we need to pick up. It's just as important now as it is at the end of the season."
Added manager Dusty Baker, whose team is back to trailing the Diamondbacks by a half-game in the NL West: "That was a two-game game, the difference between being down a half-game and 2 1/2 games."
Zerbe (1-0) gave up a homer to Junior Spivey but otherwise held down the D-Backs while the Giants rolled to a six-run sixth and a three-run seventh to take the game and run away with it.
"When you come in the game in the fourth inning, you just know the bullpen's got to cover it till the ninth," said Zerbe, who combined with Tim Worrell, Felix Rodriguez and Robb Nen to cover the rest of the game.
Bonds is right. A lot of other players did contribute to this victory:
Martinez, the shortstop who is replacing Rich Aurilia while he recovers from Wednesday's operation to remove bone chips from his elbow, was struck just above his left elbow by a Mike Morgan pitch as the next batter following Bell's homer into the pool area. Martinez, who was replaced by pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin in the eighth, said the elbow was quite sore but he intends to play this weekend in Colorado.
The plunking put a runner on first base for Bonds, and brought Oropesa -- a former Giants farmhand -- out of the bullpen.
In his first-ever meeting with Oropesa, Bonds fell behind the sidewinding lefty, 0-2, swinging at balls that went well outside the strike zone. But after watching two more such pitches to even the count, Bonds swung at a pitch on the inner part of the plate and sent it flying high to right, where it bounced off the upper reaches of the foul pole for career No. 583 and No. 16 of the year.
For a point of reference, consider Bonds hit No. 16 last year on May 17. But that was part of an incredible run of nine homers in six games for Bonds, so by Wednesday's date -- May 22 -- he was already up to 24 en route to a record 73 that surpassed the mark of 70 set by McGwire in 1998.
While watching the ball and beginning his trot, Bonds was nearly cut off by home-plate umpire Larry Young, who wanted to get a good look at this one after a controversial call Tuesday night. Young was the first-base umpire Tuesday when he called an Erubiel Durazo ball that went foul, as proven by a TV replay, a game-tying home run.
Bonds left no doubt on this one, as it caromed off the pole and back onto the field.
"I tell you what, some of the balls he hits, you think he can control the bat like that," Zerbe said. "He had a big hit for us, and that gave us more than enough insurance."
It gave the Giants a 7-4 lead at the time, and they kept rolling from there.
And in the clubhouse, the talk wasn't about Mark McGwire or the all-time homers ladder. It was about a big win over the team they'd like to topple off the top of the division ladder.
"Having intense games this early in the year, that's a good sign," Bell said. "I know it is early, but they're all important. This was definitely a good win for us."
John Schlegel is a regional writer for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
- David Bell was among several Giants who had big days at the plate, going 3-for-6 with a pair of homers, including an opposite-field shot into the swimming pool area in right-center field. It was his second career multi-homer game, the first coming May 9, 2001, at Boston while he was playing for Seattle.
- Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Benito Santiago each contributed three hits as well, with Santiago smacking a pair of doubles and driving in three runs.
- Jeff Kent, J.T. Snow and Marvin Benard each had a pair of hits as the Giants racked up 17 hits, six walks and a potentially damaging hit-by-pitch to shortstop Ramon Martinez, who had tripled earlier.