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Bonds blasts past Maris

Giants slugger hits three homers to move within seven of the single-season record.

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 10, 2001

DENVER -- Barry Bonds is amazing even himself.

Bonds hit three home runs Sunday, giving him 63 for the season to pass Roger Maris' once magical mark and move him closer to Mark McGwire's record of 70.

Bonds' third homer was a three-run shot in the 11th inning that helped lift the San Francisco Giants over the Colorado Rockies 9-4.

J.T. Snow broke a tie at 4 with a two-run homer earlier in the 11th as San Francisco increased its lead in the NL wild-card race to one game over St. Louis.

"I've been in disbelief over a lot of things I've done this year," Bonds said. "Everything is unreal. That was fun today, but not as much fun as J.T. winning it for us."

Bonds, who came to the postgame interview with home run ball No. 62 in his pocket, took his first curtain call of the season on the road after his third homer.

Rockies fans, many of whom booed him earlier in the three-game series, gave Bonds a standing ovation. He emerged from the dugout to acknowledge the cheers.

Several of Bonds' teammates also assembled around home plate to congratulate him after No. 63. Manager Dusty Baker later insisted that reports of coolness between Bonds and his teammates were untrue.

"All that stuff you read about hasn't been in this clubhouse," Baker said. "Everybody in this clubhouse loves Barry.

"That was a big day for Barry. Three home runs, that's awesome."

Rockies manager Buddy Bell said he hoped Bonds breaks McGwire's record.

"I'm kind of rooting for him," Bell said, "but I'm glad he won't do it here. What he did today was incredible. The first ball he hit was mammoth."

Asked if he thought Bonds would break the record, Bell said: "I think so. When Mac was going through this, I thought every time he got up he was going to hit a home run. I look at Barry the same way."

Bonds has 18 games to break McGwire's record, set in 1998. After an off day today, Bonds and the Giants begin a series at Houston's homer-friendly Enron Field.

Bonds had his second three-homer game of the season. He also did it May 19 at Atlanta.

He broke Maris' record for homers by a left-hander set in 1961. He also became the fastest to reach 63, doing it in his 144th game. McGwire needed 152 games to do it in 1998.

Bonds has 32 homers on the road, tying the major-league mark set by Babe Ruth in 1927 and equaled by McGwire in 1998.

In the first inning, on a 1-and-1 count, Bonds launched a 488-foot shot off Colorado's Scott Elarton, the third-longest homer in Coors Field history. Bonds' drive struck a beer sign beyond the centerfield wall.

After taking a called third strike in the third, Bonds lined a 2-and-2 pitch from Elarton that just cleared the rightfield wall in the fifth.

Maris, whose record stood for 37 years, had been surpassed only by McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

Bonds, who went 3-for-5, walked in the eighth and popped out in the 10th.

In the 11th, after Snow homered, Bonds hit his blast off Todd Belitz, who was making his Colorado debut.

Bonds had gone homerless Friday and Saturday at the hitter-friendly park.

Benito Santiago led off the 11th with a walk, and Snow homered off Belitz. Marvin Benard then walked and Rich Aurilia singled, setting up Bonds' third homer.

Greg Norton had three RBI, including a two-run homer, for Colorado.

The Giants took a 3-0 lead in the first. After consecutive homers by Aurilia and Bonds, Jeff Kent singled and scored on Shawon Dunston's double.

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