CINCINNATI (AP) -- For the first time in his season of setbacks and scandals, Barry Bonds is feeling really good. And the feeling is rubbing off on everyone around him.
Bonds hit a tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning -- No. 730 overall -- and Shea Hillenbrand had a solo shot in the 10th that sent the surging San Francisco Giants to a 5-4 victory over the slumping Cincinnati Reds on Monday.For most of the season, Bonds has been a focal point for his chase of baseball's home run record and a grand jury investigation of his conduct. With his legs feeling strong again, he's become the focal point of San Francisco's comeback."I'm feeling a lot better," said Bonds, who has an eight-game hitting streak. "I feel good."The Giants have won three in a row and 15 of 21, closing within 2½ games of San Diego, the NL wild-card leader. Their comeback on Monday moved them to .500 (69-69) for the first time since July 27."So many times we've gotten close to .500, just to be pushed back," manager Felipe Alou said. "I hope guys understand we've got to be better than .500 to win this division or the wild card. We've got to keep going."Now it's the Reds who are fading away.Only 11 days earlier, they had pulled within less than a percentage point for the NL Central lead with St. Louis. A 2-8 trip to the West Coast knocked them out of the division race and 3½ games back of the Padres.The Reds were in line for a slump-busting victory before they made the mistake of letting starter Aaron Harang pitch to Bonds with the game on the line in the eighth. Bonds has five homers in his last six games, but Harang had good career numbers against him."He pitched outstanding all night," manager Jerry Narron said. "It was about as stress-free as we've seen in a while, and Bonds was l-for-10 against him. He made one mistake and got burned by it."Bonds' latest homer also cost the Reds their center fielder. Ken Griffey Jr. dug his right cleats into the padded wall while trying to catch Bonds' homer, which landed in the first row in right-center field.Griffey came up limping and left the game, having dislocated the toe next to the big toe on his right foot. He was listed as day-to-day. Griffey wasn't available for comment after the game.The homer left Bonds 25 homers shy of Hank Aaron's career record and three away from his NL mark."He's so lethal right now," said Hillenbrand, who is on quite a tear of his own -- homers in five of the last 10 games. "It's amazing. Someday I'll be able to cherish it and tell my grandkids about how I was able to play with the best I've ever seen play the game."Hillenbrand's two-out homer in the 10th off David Weathers (4-4) completed the comeback. Kevin Correia (1-0) retired four in a row, and Mike Stanton pitched a perfect 10th for his sixth save in eight chances.Moises Alou had an RBI double and a solo homer off Harang, who allowed only six hits in eight innings. The one pitch he left over the plate to Bonds cost him the victory."He plays to hit mistakes," Harang said. "If you don't make your best pitch and you're still aggressive, you have a chance."Cincinnati used a pair of solo homers off Brad Hennessey -- by Rich Aurilia in the second and Jason LaRue in the fourth -- to pull ahead 4-2.San Francisco had a setback in the fourth inning, when catcher Eliezer Alfonzo was hit on the back of the left forearm by Harang's up-and-in fastball. He left the game for X-rays that found no fracture.The rookie has started 64 of 85 games since he was called up June 2 from Class AA. He became the Giants' primary catcher after Mike Matheny was unable to come back from a concussion sustained in late May, when he was hit in the head repeatedly by foul balls.
Aurilia's homer was the first allowed by Hennessey since Aug. 2. He had gone 21 innings without giving one up. ... A total of 216 homers have been hit at Great American Ball Park, most in the majors. ... Reds closer Eddie Guardado will throw in the bullpen Tuesday, the first time he has tested his sore left forearm since he went on the 15-day DL on Aug. 20. "It feels better," he said Monday. "It's not going to be 100 percent until it gets fully rested over the winter, but I can deal with the pain I've got right now."