Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Bonds opens season with two homers

The Associated Press

        LOS ANGELES — After getting off to a great beginning, Barry Bonds said he's more concerned about the ending. He was speaking of his team, not himself.

        Coming off one of the greatest offensive seasons in baseball history but still without a World Series appearance, Bonds homered twice and drove in five runs Tuesday to lead the San Francisco Giants to a season-opening 9-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

        “It's not how you start, it's how you finish,” said the 37-year-old San Francisco slugger, who hit 73 homers last year to break the record set by Mark McGwire in 1998. “We want to be in the race until it's over. It's early, one game doesn't make a season.”

        Bonds hit a two-out, three-run homer off Kevin Brown on his second swing of the season, a drive that capped a five-run second inning.

        Bonds had an RBI single off Brown in the fourth, then sent a 1-1 pitch from Omar Daal just inside the right-field foul pole in the seventh, becoming the 10th player to reach the loge level at Dodger Stadium.

        The home runs gave Bonds five on opening day and 569 overall, moving him four behind Harmon Killebrew, who ranks sixth on baseball's career list.

        Bonds has 57 multihomer games, including 10 last season, and is fifth in the category. He became the 75th player since 1900 to homer twice on opening day.

        “This guy's in another league,” teammate J.T. Snow said. “It doesn't surprise you, you almost come to expect it. I think the rest of us feel like we're Little Leaguers. We're fighting and scratching, he's up there as relaxed as can be. He just does things others can't do.”

        Bonds smiled when asked what he expected from himself this season, saying: “The only expectation I have is to stay healthy.”

        Bonds, who popped to second on Brown's first pitch in the opening inning, took a called strike before hitting an 0-1 pitch into the left-field stands in the second.

        “I haven't done well against this team at all,” said Bonds, who has homered twice in 34 at-bats against Brown. “Kevin's been tough against us. He's a great pitcher, he's a good man, he's a workhorse. Some of us pitches stayed up.”

        Bonds, who came out of the game after hitting his second homer, ended last season by hitting his final three against the Dodgers at Pacific Bell Park including No. 73 off knuckleballer Dennis Springer in the final game.

        “The man in left field did his fair share of damage today,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said, referring to Bonds. “The more you watch him, the more you reflect back on what he's done throughout the course of his career. He's beginning to make a case for himself as arguably being maybe the greatest player to ever play the game.”

        Livan Hernandez, making his third straight opening-day start for the Giants, won by allowing both Los Angeles runs and four hits in eight innings.

        Hernandez, who retired 14 straight batters before Mark Grudzielanek singled to start the eighth, also had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run.

        “We outscored them, but Livan won that game for us,” Bonds said.

        Brown, making his first start since surgery on his right elbow Sept. 27, was battered for seven runs and nine hits in four innings. Brown, 3-3 in seven opening-day starts, had been 8-1 with a 1.86 ERA against the Giants.

        “I made some bad pitches today, and they took advantage of them,” he said. “That's what it all boils down to. My job is to give the team a chance to win and I pretty much buried us. I didn't pull my weight today.”

        Hernandez and Rich Aurilia had RBI singles in the second before Bonds hit his first homer, and Benito Santiago had a run-scoring single in the seventh, after Bonds' second homer.

        “Fortunately for us, it looks like he picked up where he left off,” Aurilia said of Bonds. “What's he on pace for, 324 homers? We all hope he hits 74 this season, or whatever. If he does, we're going to win a lot of games.”


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