- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2004

BALTIMORE — In what was probably his last appearance in the hometown of the man he is stalking for second place on baseball’s career home run list, Barry Bonds didn’t walk away quietly.

Thanks to Baltimore’s decision to pitch to the San Francisco Giants slugger, 45,728 fans at Camden Yards saw a small piece of history — and a big piece of an Orioles loss.

Bonds hit a two-run homer in the third inning and drove in another run in the sixth. San Francisco scored six of its seven runs with two outs, and a handful of Baltimore blunders sealed a 7-3 win for the Giants.

The blast was Bonds’ 500th homer with San Francisco and the 676th of his career, moving him within 38 of Babe Ruth for second all time. It made the Giants the first club in major league history to have three players hit 500 home runs (Bonds, Willie Mays and Mel Ott).

Bonds finished the three-game series 5-for-11 with two home runs, five RBI and six walks, including five intentional. Five of those walks came in the second game of the series, the only one won by the Orioles.

Baltimore had several chances to close the gap yesterday, but the Orioles, as third baseman Luis Lopez so aptly put it, “didn’t play like a major league baseball team.”

Baltimore had runners on first and second with none out in the first, but Jerry Hairston was picked off first. And with runners on first and second again in the second inning, Larry Bigbie was caught in a rundown after he took too big of a lead off second base.

“Things like those aren’t physical errors. Those are mental errors that you can’t afford,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. “I can live with ground balls going through people’s legs because that’s been happening for 100 years. That happens. Things like [the baserunning miscues] should not happen.”

With two outs in the fourth inning, the Giants scored their third run when Lopez two-hopped a throw to first on a Pedro Feliz grounder, allowing Feliz to reach safely and Dustan Mohr to score. The Orioles elected to pitch to Bonds after a long conference, and he drove Ponson’s first pitch through the hole at second for a run-scoring single.

“We did a lot of things today that were inexcusable,” said second baseman Brian Roberts, who lost a fourth-inning pop fly in the sun. “It wasn’t one person. It was the whole team.”

Baltimore starter Sidney Ponson (3-8) gave up 13 hits in 62/3 innings, but what did him in was his inability to close out innings. Ponson allowed seven two-out hits and surrendered two of his three walks with two outs.

It didn’t seem too many fans were disappointed with the loss. Bonds received a standing ovation after his blast in the third inning, and two Orioles were booed at the future Hall of Famer’s hands — Ponson in the fifth inning for issuing Bonds’ 48th intentional walk of the year and reliever Eddy Rodriguez for striking out Feliz to end the ninth inning with Bonds on deck.

Ponson vowed to go after Bonds, and he paid for it both times. The homer in the third inning came when Ponson, who was trying to throw low and away, left a sinker over the middle of the plate. Bonds’ bomb traveled 380 feet and cleared the right-field wall — though nowhere near the B&O; Warehouse — for his 18th homer of the season. In the sixth inning, Bonds reached out and pulled the first pitch of the at-bat.

“That pitch was six inches out [from the plate]. Any other hitter doesn’t try for that,” Ponson said. “That’s why he’s the best.”

Notes — Jay Gibbons was 0-for-3 in his second game of a rehabilitation assignment with Class AA Bowie yesterday. The outfielder was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 2 with back spasms. Mazzilli said he doesn’t know whether Gibbons is ready to come off the DL, but a decision could be made today. …

Mazzilli also said he hasn’t decided on a pitcher for Wednesday’s game at Los Angeles and said he probably won’t know until today who will start. He said he has five options for a starter, but those options probably don’t include Rodrigo Lopez or Erik Bedard, the starters from Saturday’s doubleheader, coming back on short rest.

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