Bonds: 30-plus homers for 11 straight seasons


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Barry Bonds, who knows all about coming back to Pittsburgh to play before unfriendly fans, made it a lot easier for Jason Schmidt to get over his nervousness about facing his former team.

Bonds hit his 597th career homer and just missed another while driving in four runs, leading Schmidt and the San Francisco Giants past the Pirates 11-6 Saturday night.

"I wasn't nervous at all before the game, but as soon as I stepped on the mound, my knees were shaking,'' said Schmidt, who allowed seven hits and four runs in 7 1/3 innings. "It's where I pitched for five years. But getting those runs helped get the nervousness out of the way.''

Bonds moved within three homers of becoming the fourth major leaguer with 600, powering Kip Wells' full-count pitch deep into the right-field seats to put the Giants up 5-0 in the second.

The drive was his 30th -- and 103rd in two seasons -- and extended his NL record to 11 consecutive seasons with 30 or more homers. Jimmie Foxx holds the major league mark of 12 from 1929-40.

His next time up, Bonds was convinced he had homered again, dropping his bat and standing in the batter's box to watch his long drive to right-center in the fourth.

But the ball struck the base of the wall at the 375-foot mark and, because of his late start, Bonds settled for an RBI single that made it 6-0. Bonds went 2-for-3 before being lifted with the Giants up by eight runs in the seventh.

After Sunday's game in Pittsburgh, the Giants return home for a
six-game homestand in which Bonds might go for No. 600 against the
Cubs or Pirates.

"You just want to play,'' said Bonds, out recently with a sore hamstring. "Wherever it happens, it happens.''

The Giants had lost eight of 11. They stayed one game behind Los
Angeles in the wild card race but fell seven back of Arizona in the
NL West as the Diamondbacks swept a doubleheader from the Mets.

Bonds is still booed in Pittsburgh 10 years after leaving the
team, but a sellout crowd was much warmer to Schmidt (7-5), who was
traded to the Giants just more than a year ago.

He was cruising with a 9-1 lead in the eighth before tiring in the 90-degree weather and giving up Brian Giles' three-run homer -- Giles' 29th -- in his 117th and final pitch. Armando Rios added a two-run double against reliever Chad Zerbe.

The night before, closer Robb Nen was within a strike of closing out the game three times before Giles' two-run double won it for Pittsburgh 6-5.

This time, Nen finished off Pittsburgh in the ninth in a non-save situation. David Bell's two-run double in the top half put the Giants up again by five runs and took away the save opportunity.

"I wanted to get him back out there, but not in that situation,'' manager Dusty Baker said. "The key is we won. Every time we've had a tough loss, we've bounced back.''

The Giants jumped on Wells (10-9) for two runs in the first on Kenny Lofton's leadoff double, two walks and RBI singles by Rich Aurilia and Benito Santiago.

Bonds' homer was his third in five games at PNC Park and was the Giants' only hit in the three-run second. Wells walked Schmidt with one out then, with a chance to get out of the inning with no scoring, the pitcher let Aurilia's two-out tapper back to the mound bounce through his legs for an error.

"If I catch that little dribbler, it gets me out of the inning,'' Wells said.

That brought up Bonds, who hit his 16th homer in 258 at-bats against his former team. Of Bonds' 597 homers, 421 are with the Giants and 176 were with Pittsburgh from 1986-92.

"You really want to get him out in that situation, and I gave him something to hit,'' said Wells, who watched Bonds foul off a couple of 98 mph fastballs before throwing him another one chest-high. "It wasn't inside enough and it was a hittable pitch.''

Jeff Kent hit his 21st homer, and J.T. Snow followed one batter later with his fifth to start a three-run seventh against reliever Ron Villone. It was the first time this season the Giants have hit back-to-back homers.

Game notes
Schmidt, a .103 hitter when the game started, had two hits. He is 2-0 against the Pirates. ... The crowd of 38,275 was the Pirates' largest of the season and the fifth-largest since PNC Park opened last season. ... Wells lost his third in a row and failed
for the fourth time to win his 11th game. ... Pirates CF Rob Mackowiak left in the second with a strained muscle in his left side.