Thursday, September 21, 2000

Bonds serves HR bat to McEnroe




By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer

[img]
John McEnroe waves the Barry Bonds' bat. Bonds gave it to him after hitting a HR into McCovey Cove.
(AP photo)
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        SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Bonds was in the on-deck circle when he spotted John McEnroe in a front-row seat. An avid tennis fan, Bonds teased McEnroe about his old habit of shattering rackets in anger.

        “I told him, "After I hit this homer, I'll give you my bat,”' Bonds said.

        Bonds then went to the plate and smashed the ball into McCovey Cove. After rounding the bases, he handed his bat to an awestruck McEnroe.

        “I was like, "Holy cow!”' Bonds said with a grin. “Something like that happens maybe once in your lifetime.”

        It was that kind of magical night for the San Francisco Giants, who clinched a tie for the the NL West title by beating the Reds 4-2 Wednesday night. San Francisco, helped by Arizona's 1-0 loss to Los Angeles, cut its magic number to one.

        Bonds' 493rd career homer into the mist and water beyond Pacific Bell Park's right-field wall tied Bonds with Lou Gehrig for 17th on the majors' career list. It also brought a raucous ovation from the San Francisco fans, who will be at full volume for the Giants' five-game series against the Diamondbacks beginning Thursday night.

        “It could happen (Thursday) night, but it'll be tough,” Giants manager Dusty Baker said. “That last breath out of anybody is tough, but this city is ready for it and this organization is ready for it.”

        The Giants, who improved the majors' best record to 91-60, managed just five hits on Wednesday night, but they were enough to back Ortiz (13-11). He allowed two hits over 6 2-3 innings to win for the eighth time in nine decisions. Ortiz is 8-1 with a 1.92 ERA in his last 10 starts.

        “That was probably the best six innings I've thrown in a long time,” Ortiz said. “I had everything working, and I was hitting all my spots.”

        Robb Nen struck out the side in the ninth for his 38th save. He has thrown 25 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings over 27 appearances.

        Ortiz didn't allow a hit, walked just one and faced the minimum 18 batters until the seventh inning. Leadoff hitter Brian Hunter squibbed a swinging bunt up the third-base line that neither Ortiz nor catcher Bobby Estalella could reach in time for a single.

        Asked if it was poor sportsmanship to bunt in a potential no-hitter, Ortiz shrugged and said: “They've got to try to win, too.”

        Ortiz, who struck out eight, lost his focus after Hunter's bunt, hitting Pokey Reese on the left hand and surrendering a two-run double by Michael Tucker. Doug Henry then relieved and pitched out of the jam.

        “(Ortiz) did an outstanding job for six innings,” Reds manager Jack McKeon said. “The way things were going, I thought he'd throw a no-hitter.”

        Notes: Bonds' 48 homers this season are the most by a Giants left fielder in the franchise's 110-year history. ... Bonds is responsible for six of the seven homers that have landed in McCovey Cove this season. Los Angeles' Todd Hundley is the only other hitter to do it. ... The Giants' last no-hitter was pitched by John Montefusco on Sept. 29, 1976.

       



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