SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Matt Clement got so excited to pitch to
Barry Bonds that he couldn't give the San Francisco slugger
anything to hit.
Sammy Sosa smacks the first of his two homers in the first inning.
No matter -- Sammy Sosa still provided a home run to remember.
Sosa homered twice, including a 461-foot drive to straightaway
center, and Bonds was denied his 600th home run for the second
straight day as the Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 9-3
Thursday. All the attention in the series was focused on Bonds, who hit
his 599th homer on Tuesday night. Clement was so worked up for the
challenge that he got overexcited and walked Bonds twice on nine
pitches in his first two at-bats. "I was out of control against him, but I was fine against
everybody else,'' said Clement, who pitched seven shutout innings
of two-hit ball. "It was a great atmosphere out here. I was able
to settle down, but you're talking about the best ballplayer of my
generation. That was a highlight for my career.'' Bonds went 1-for-2 with a single and a strikeout. Instead, the
stars were Clement and Sosa, who saved Chicago from being swept and
snapped San Francisco's four-game winning streak. "I really didn't care how far that home run was,'' said Sosa,
who hit the second-longest homer in Pacific Bell Park's three-year
history. "My concern was to get the win for Matt, because he
pitched a great game. Barry is going to get 600. It's just a matter
of time. He'll just have to be a little bit more patient.'' While Clement (9-8) got nine strikeouts, Sosa provided the
excitement with a two-run homer in the first and the long two-run
shot in the eighth against reliever Troy Brohawn. Sosa leads the NL with 35 homers, and he has 485 in his career.
His eighth-inning drive, which caromed off the 490-foot sign on one
short hop, trails only Andres Galarraga's 485-foot homer last
season in Pac Bell history. Chicago scored six early runs against Livan Hernandez (7-12).
The Cubs won for just the fifth time in 15 games, though Jeff Kent
broke up the shutout with a three-run homer in the eighth. Giants manager Dusty Baker thought he might give Bonds a day off
to rest his torn hamstring, but Bonds insisted on staying in the
lineup in his quest to join Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and
Willie Mays (660) and the only players to reach 600. Bonds struck out in the sixth and beat out an infield single
against reliever Jeff Fassero in the eighth before leaving for a
pinch-runner. Bonds is 2-for-6 with an RBI double and five walks since hitting
No. 599. He's expected to be in the lineup Friday night when the
Giants open a weekend series against Pittsburgh, Bonds' former
club. "We think he would certainly benefit from some rest, but nobody
knows how to prepare and play this game as well as Barry Bonds,''
Giants trainer Stan Conte said. Clement had a brilliant start one day after he became the most
experienced pitcher in the Cubs' rotation. Jon Lieber, Chicago's
opening day starter the past three years, was scheduled for
reconstructive elbow surgery on Thursday, which will sideline him
for a year or more. "I talked to (Lieber) yesterday on the phone,'' Clement said.
"I learned a lot about consistency and determination from him this
season. I let him know I was praying for him.'' Clement walked Bonds in the first inning, but retired San
Francisco's next seven hitters. He didn't yield a hit until
Hernandez's two-out single in the fifth. J.T. Snow led off the seventh with a double and the Giants
loaded the bases with two walks, but Clement struck out
pinch-hitter Shawon Dunston with a wicked breaking ball. Alex Gonzalez had a two-run single in the Cubs' four-run first
against Hernandez, who gave another demonstration of the reasons
San Francisco was unable to trade him last month. He has won just
once in his last 10 starts, going 1-6 with a 6.08 ERA. "Fans booing didn't bother me,'' Hernandez said. "You want to
pitch a good game every time, but that doesn't happen. If I did,
I'd win 34 games.'' San Francisco fell a half-game behind Los Angeles in the NL wild-card standings.
Bonds' longest homer in the park is 451 feet. ... Fred
McGriff, who had an RBI single in the second inning, drove in six
runs in the three-game series for the Cubs. ... Giants OF Tsuyoshi
Shinjo will play two weekend games for Triple-A Fresno in his
rehabilitation from a hamstring injury. ... San Francisco, still
desperate for left-handed relievers, claimed LHP Scott Eyre off
waivers from Toronto. He'll be in the bullpen Friday. ... 3B Bill
Mueller drove in two runs for Chicago, but he'll get the day off
Friday to rest his sore leg. The Cubs have a weekend series in