D.C. feels Big Bang

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After being heckled by Washington Nationals fans last night, Barry Bonds did what Barry Bonds does.

The San Francisco Giants left fielder turned on an inside fastball from Livan Hernandez in the fourth inning and the ball landed in the last row of the first section in the upper deck at RFK Stadium.

Reaching the plate after his home-run trot, his 706th career homer -- putting him eight behind Babe Ruth for second in Major League Baseball history -- Bonds did something different.

Besides pointing to the sky, as he always does to recognize his late father Bobby Bonds, he brought one finger up to his lips in a "shhh" motion.

"There was one voice heckling from the seats, he fired me up a bit," said Bonds after the Giants won 4-3. "I was signalling for him to be quiet."

Bonds was cheered by the crowd of 32,403 during batting practice when he hit three balls into the upper deck, but booed during his four at-bats and sometimes serenaded by "BALCO" chants, referring to the steroid investigation of the Bay Area lab and Bonds' alleged steroid use.

Six months after sluggers Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco were summoned to visit to Washington and testify before congress, Mr. Bonds made his first visit to Washington.

He says he still is not healthy. He has had three knee surgeries since the end of the 2004 season.

"Sometimes I'm impatient, I haven't played, so this is my spring," said Bonds after his seventh game and first on the road. "Right now, everything is rushed at the plate."

Still, he has three homers three games. What happens when he gets in a groove?

Bonds smiled and said "just sit back and enjoy the show."

Bonds hit a 1-2 pitch from Hernandez, a former Giants teammate, for what was the longest homer to RFK's right field in 73 games this season.

Nationals right fielder Jose Guillen didn't budge or twitch as the ball flew over the wall.

"Ah," Bonds said, "as long as it clears the yellow line atop the fence. I have no idea what pitch it was, Livan only throws about five different fastballs."

The other aspect of Bonds' presence in the Giants lineup was evident in the ninth. Trailing 2-1 with a man on first, Nationals manager Frank Robinson visited the mound to talk to Hernandez on how to pitch Bonds. Four pitches later the semi-unintentional/intentional walk had Bonds at first.

Moises Alou then hit a three-run homer to left and as Bonds said, "Moises won the game for us, not me."

Bonds was kicked off his high school team, kicked off his college team. He always had that never-fit-in feeling, whether he brought it on himself or not.

Shakespeare would have loved him. So good. So surly.

Bonds transformed himself from a line-drive hitter, with opposite-field power into a dead-pull slugger ... an an all-star, a Hall of Famer, owner of the single-season homer record and now close to Ruth and career home run leader Hank Aaron.

"He's the best I've ever seen," Giants coach Willie Upshaw said.

The BALCO investigation put Bonds under the microscope. Was he clean or dirty? Layers continue to be pulled away from this story, with more to come, like an onion.

His 705th homer was against Dodgers reliever Hong-Chi Kuo. The lefty threw two 95-m.p.h. fastballs past Bonds to go up 0-2. Bonds fouled one off after another, taking pitches and working the count to 3-2. On the ninth pitch, Kuo came inside with a fastball and the ball landed in McCovey Cove.

"He has always been booed on the road," said broadcaster John Miller, who accurately predicted a win-win situation for the fans before the game:

"If Livan gets him out there will be a roar. If Barry homers they'll be excited (and say): 'Hey I was there to see him hit No. 706.' "

While Robinson wants Palmeiro and his 569 homers tossed in the toilet, he takes a different approach to Bonds and the steroid charges.

"He has not tested positive for anything yet," Robinson said.


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