"This is where we want to be. We're going home for our last nine regular-season games in San Francisco," Bonds said on his website. "For some reason, I've hit all my milestone homers at SBC Park. So I figure my 700th homer will come sometime before we leave there."
Bonds did not hit a homerun, to the disappointment of Milwaukee fans, but he didn't need to as the Giants (82-65) received a stellar performance from rookie Brad Hennessey (2-2), who led them to a 4-0 win to complete a sweep of the Brewers.
"He stuffed them," Giants telecaster Mike Krukow said. "Just two hits allowed in seven innings, and when you can do that as a rookie, in the month of September, in a pennant drive, you become a veteran fast; he didn't pitch like a rookie."
The 24-year-old indeed pitched like a grizzled veteran who has been around the heat of a pennant race many times before. Hennessey, however, has never pitched in September at any level prior to this season. Because San Francisco has been blessed with several days off, he also hasn't pitched for nearly two weeks.
"His last start, he looked arm-weary," Krukow said. "He looked tired. He didn't have his good sink. He didn't have the tilt on his slider. Not so today; the rest really affected him in a positive way."
Bonds affected the game in a positive way by getting the scoring started early in the top of the first inning. With two on and one out, Bonds lined a double to right-field to score Deivi Cruz from second base, giving the Giants a 1-0 lead. J.T. Snow followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center-field to plate Pedro Feliz, extending the lead to 2-0.
Marquis Grissom added another run by launching one just barely over the left-field fence in the top of the second inning for his 20th homerun of the season. Feliz also hit his 20th homer, a blast to deep right center-field in the top of the third inning, making it 4-0.
Hennessey made sure the four runs held up as he pitched seven shutout innings, striking out four, before giving way to the bullpen to finish the last two innings.
"He threw strikes," Giants manager Felipe Alou said, "and I was surprised what he did today. He walked the first guy he saw, but after that, he was very good. That was the kind of performance we needed, somebody to rise to the occasion, the challenge."
The Giants will need more players to rise to the occasion in their upcoming nine-game homestand against division rivals San Diego and Los Angeles, with the Wild-Card contending Astros mixed in between.
"I can't tell you how important this is," said a focused Barry Bonds. "Teams that have been tough for us, like the Padres and the Dodgers, play us 12 times in our last 15 games. Add the Astros and Roger Clemens for that little bit of extra flavor and we'll have our work cut out. We're going to have to play harder than we've ever played."
And the kayakers will have to fight for position harder than they have ever jockeyed for. Just like number 500 and single-season record homeruns 71, 72, and 73 in 2001, number 600 in 2002, and numbers 660 and 661 earlier this season, magical number 700 is on its way to the Cove. Where will you be?
Game Notes: Bonds went 3-for-3, raising his season batting average to .374 and giving him a career total of 2,722 hits, passing Lou Gehrig for 49th on the all-time hits list... Ray Durham made another error in the bottom of the sixth inning, his 15th of the season... There was a Ricky Ledee sighting in the top of the ninth inning as he appeared as a pinch-hitter, lining a solid single to center-field.
SFDugout.com's Player of the Game: Brad Hennessey, for his gutsy performance in the heat of a pennant race. Only two years removed from a benign tumor in his upper back, Hennessey has emerged from the Giants farm system to contribute sooner than many scouts expected.
Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.
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