- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2001

HOUSTON Barry Bonds hit home run No. 70 last night and tied Mark McGwire's record a feat even Big Mac thought might last a lifetime when he did it a mere three years ago.

Bonds, son of an All-Star and godson of a home run king, has three games left to make history all his own.

After watching Houston pitchers work around him throughout the three-game series, Bonds finally got a chance to swing in the ninth inning. He did not miss, hitting a 454-foot shot into the upper deck in right field off rookie Wilfredo Rodriguez.

Bonds immediately raised both arms in the air and began a slow trot around the bases. The record crowd of 43,734, which had booed when Astros pitchers walked him, rewarded him with a standing ovation.

The Giants won 10-2, completing a sweep that kept them two games behind Arizona in the National League West race with only a weekend series left at home against Los Angeles.

Bonds' teammates poured out to greet him at home plate along with young Nikolai Bonds, whose father hugged him tight at the plate. Bonds then pointed to his wife and daughters behind the third-base dugout as he returned to the bench.

patient. I'm glad it's over. I'm glad my family was here. My wife gets to sleep now," Bonds said.

"I got frustrated when it was 8-1 and they intentionally walked me because it was not a really crucial situation. That's when I got really frustrated," Bonds said.

He said he was honored to share the record with McGwire.

"I have a lot of respect for Mark McGwire. He's a great home run hitter. He's always established power and strength. He put the record where it is. I want to get three more victories," Bonds said.

With fans still cheering at Enron Field, Bonds came out for two curtain calls. He took his position in left field to start the bottom of the ninth, was mobbed by teammates who were in the Giants' bullpen, then was replaced and left, waving his cap to fans.

Bonds' 70th homer marked the second big achievement of the day in the majors. Earlier, Rickey Henderson of San Diego scored his 2,246th career run and broke Ty Cobb's record.

Bonds hit his 564th career home run, moving him past Reggie Jackson a distant relative for seventh place on the all-time list.

Among those cheering for Bonds was his godfather, Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who ranks third on the career list with 660 homers.

Bonds' father, former major leaguer Bobby, was at the Giants' first two games in Houston. The team, however, believed he had to leave town before seeing his son make history.

Bonds connected on a 1-1 pitch from Rodriguez, a 22-year-old lefty making only his second major league appearance. Bonds took a huge cut and missed the first pitch, watched a ball up and in, then launched a 93 mph fastball into the stands.

The ball was caught by Charles Murphy of Houston.

Bonds, a 10-time All-Star who could be headed to his record fourth MVP award, had never hit more than 49 home runs in a season before this year.

But choking up on his 34-inch, maplewood bat, he quickly put himself in position to challenge McGwire's record, set in 1998.

McGwire's mark captured the nation's attention, especially because he dueled Sammy Sosa to beat the longtime standard of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961.

When McGwire finished with 70 home runs, it looked like it might become baseball's new magic number.

"I think it will stand for a while. I know how grueling it is to do what I've done this year," he said. "Will it be broken someday? It could be. Will I be alive? Possibly.

"But if I'm not playing," he said, "I'll definitely be there."

Bonds, never the most likable player with fans or opponents, did not stir quite the same interest as Big Mac. Not only was Bonds' chase not the biggest story in the country not after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 but it even fell behind Michael Jordan's return on the sports pages.

The media contingent watching Bonds the last few days was only half the size of Big Mac's following.

Bonds came into cozy Enron on Tuesday night eager to have Houston pitchers challenge him. Instead, they all took turns working around him.

Until he homered, he had singled twice in five at-bats and gotten eight walks in the three-game series. Even so, Astros manager Larry Dierker insisted he had not told his pitchers to work around Bonds.

Bonds had gone 19 plate appearances, including 10 walks and a pair of hit by pitches, without homering since hitting No. 69 on Saturday.

It was nowhere close to his longest homerless drought, having gone 63 plate appearances and 14 games without one before the All-Star break. But it came at a most inopportune time, especially with history so close it's a mere 373-foot shot to the right-center field fence at Enron.

Bonds goes home to face the Giants' longtime rival, the Dodgers.

In April, Los Angeles was furious after the Giants stopped the game at Pacific Bell Park following Bonds' 500th home run.

"You know us and the Dodgers," Giants manager Dusty Baker said before last night's game. "You know what that's about."

Chan Ho Park is scheduled to start tonight for the Dodgers. Bonds is 10-for-37 (.270) with five home runs against him.

Jeff Kent and Marvin Benard homered as San Francisco swept the set and sent the collapsing Astros to their sixth straight loss and eighth in nine games.

The Astros, who could have clinched a playoff spot with a win, fell out of first place for the first time since Aug. 16. They dropped one game behind St. Louis, which beat Milwaukee 10-3.

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