Bonds homers as Giants beat Cubs

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor

Slugger connects for 728th homer, schools Cubs rookie Marshall

By Dave van Dyck
Tribune staff reporter

September 2, 2006, 9:29 PM CDT

Sean Marshall discovered the hard way what 429 other major-league pitchers before him have: There's no easy way around Barry Bonds.

Pitch to him? Bonds hits a home run, as he did for the first run Saturday, making Marshall his 430th different victim.

Walk him? Maybe worse. Giants' batters, following a Bonds walk, are hitting .355 with six homers and 42 RBIs this season, which includes Ray Durham's two-run blast Saturday.

That accounted for three of the Giants' runs in their 4-2 victory over the Cubs, a virtual salute to how Bonds still can dominate at 42.

Three batters after walking Bonds in the sixth inning, Marshall was headed toward the showers, even though he had allowed only three hits over the first five innings.

"Unbelievable," the Cubs' Derrek Lee said. "You can say what you want about him, but I think he's the best hitter ever."

Lee did some hitting of his own, driving his first home run since June 28 during his first comeback from wrist surgery.

But the story of the day was Bonds, with his 20th homer of the season and 728th of his career, leaving him 27 short of Hank Aaron's all-time record with 26 games to play.

"He has hit a whole bunch out of the park like he did [Saturday]," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who has seen more than a bunch of them as Giants manager for a decade.

"You just hate to have it marred by what's happening right now (with a grand jury investigation involving steroids, perjury and tax evasion). But this guy has been great all his life since he was a little kid. Yeah, I appreciate it, I just wish he wouldn't do it against us."

Actually, Bonds hadn't hit a home run against the Cubs since April 30, 2003, which is longer than it sounds because it covered only 11 games. The one Saturday came in the fourth inning, a mighty poke into the right-field bleachers that a fan returned to the field.

"That was a pretty good pitch," Marshall said. "But he is Barry Bonds."

Yes, he is, and Marshall found out firsthand what Bonds still can do with a bat and what he can do to the psyche of a pitcher.

Actually, until falling apart in the sixth inning with the walk and home runs to Durham and Moises Alou, Marshall had done quite well in his first start since July 22 after three rehab starts.

Even though the rookie left-hander has won only one of his last 12 starts, the signs are encouraging.

If he and Rich Hill continue to mature, they could give the Cubs a rare gift: Two lefties in the same rotation. Does that sound far-fetched given their combined 9-14 record? Consider this:

They are the first Cubs rookies in 34 years who each had consecutive starts of seven or more innings and fewer than two runs allowed. The last two were Rick Reuschel and Burt Hooton in 1972—and they won a total of 365 major-league games.