- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO - Fresh off their two days under the spotlight of a history-making event, the Washington Nationals tried to regain a sense of normalcy last night.

The Barry Bonds Show was ostensibly over, now that the San Francisco Giants slugger had reached and surpassed Hank Aarons career home run mark, and the Nationals could shift their focus back to playing the kind of quality baseball that has defined this team for the last three months.

That may have been easier said than done.

In a sluggish showing by the bay, the Nationals were shut out 5-0 by the Giants, who rode a first-inning homer from Bonds and six standout innings from 22-year-old right-hander Matt Cain en route to victory before 42,991 at AT&T; Park.

Washington, which showed resiliency Tuesday night in overcoming Bonds 756th career home run and rallying to win late, had no such heroics in itself this time. Held to four hits by Cain and a pair of San Francisco relievers, manager Manny Actas squad was shut out for the ninth time this season.

We couldnt get anything going offensively, Acta said. [Cain is] one of the best arms in the National League, and he showed it tonight.

Making matters worse, the Nationals lost cleanup hitter Dmitri Young in the second inning to a tight left hamstring. Young, who entered with a .334 average and 62 RBI, hurt himself running out a groundball in the top of the first. One inning later, he was replaced in the field by Robert Fick.

Young was already scheduled to get todays series final off, but he expects to be back in the lineup tomorrow night against the Arizona Diamonbacks.

Oh, yeah, the clubs best hitter said.

The ballpark wasnt nearly as energized as it was Tuesday night, when a standing-room only crowd lived and died with every Bonds at-bat and still buzzed the rest of the game. That said, the Giants faithful still came out in full force last night, greeting the new home run champion with a standing ovation every time he emerged from the dugout.

Every one of them stood when Bonds strode to the plate in the bottom of the first for his first at-bat since he changed baseball history forever. Once again, the 43-year-old slugger didnt disappoint.

With a man on first, two out and a 1-1 count on Bonds, right-hander Tim Redding tried to sneak a fastball over the inside portion of the plate. The Nationals hadnt come inside on Bonds previously in the series, but considering the aging mashers struggles on those type of pitches lately, it seemed like a decent strategy.


Bonds clearly was ready for the pitch this time. He turned on Reddings offering and sent it careening on a line to right field, well over the 25-foot high fence. It finally landed 438 feet from the plate, splashing down into McCovey Cove and retrieved by a kayaker who only missed striking it rich by 24 hours.

Ive looked at the replay on the computer three times, Redding said. The ball was on the black of the plate, if not half a ball off the plate. But, the guys hit 756 homers before tonight, so its not like hes guessing all the time.

He turned on that ball as good as he has against us, catcher Brian Schneider said. Thats a mid-90s fastball inside, and he just turned it on a dime.

More disturbing to Redding (1-3) than the pitch to Bonds were a couple of other mistakes he made during his least-effective start since joining the Washington rotation last month.

The 29-year-old right-hander, who came in with a 2.43 ERA, looked off his game. He made it through the second, third and fourth innings unscathed but then fell apart in the fifth, allowing another homer to an unlikely batter.

Facing the opposing starter, Redding served up a 1-2 creampuff: a hanging, 76 mph curveball that Cain (4-12) promptly deposited into the left-field bleachers.

As the crowd roared over the young right-handers first career homer — only 756 short of Bonds record total — Redding looked disgusted.

Sometimes when you step back and you dont put the pedal to the metal and dont throw it like youre supposed to with a normal hitter, you hang them, he said.

Unfortunately, he caught the barrel of the bat and hit it out.

Note — Jason Bergmann tossed three shutout innings in a rehab start for the Nationals Gulf Coast League rookie team yesterday, a positive step in his return from a hamstring strain. Bergmann, who is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list tomorrow, allowed two hits, struck out four and walked two.

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