LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Despite never facing Barry Bonds before, James Baldwin knew what to do. He pitched the San Francisco slugger inside, but missed by inches and Bonds made Baldwin pay for it.
Bonds hit his 67th home run in the seventh inning to move within three of Mark McGwire's major league record. His solo shot helped the Giants defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 Monday night in the opener of the three-game series.
"Barry will probably win the MVP this year, especially with the amount of homers he's hit that meant something," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "That bears a lot of weight with me. It's not only numbers, but when you hit them."
McGwire set the single-season record of 70 homers three years ago.
Bonds' homer came in the Giants' 151st game. McGwire hit his 67th in St. Louis' 162nd game. The Cardinals played 163 games that season.
Baldwin (2-5) intentionally walked Bonds in the fifth before pitching to him in the seventh. The homer came on a 91-mph fastball.
"I made a mistake and he made me pay for it," Baldwin said. "That's why he's got 67 home runs. But we've just got to keep attacking him."
Bonds lined a 1-1 pitch from the right-hander into the lower box seats in the right field corner with two outs in the seventh, giving San Francisco a 2-0 lead. It was his major league-leading 100th extra-base hit.
"I don't really make too many adjustments up there. I know where I want to be in my hitting position," Bonds said. "It's hard enough to make contact as it is, let alone try to think too much and make too many changes."
Bonds broke a tie with Sammy Sosa for the second most homers ever in a season. Sosa hit 66 in 1998.
Bonds was 1-for-3 with two walks, one intentional, and the homer.
Livan Hernandez pitched seven innings of three-hit ball for the Giants, who moved within 1 1/2 games of idle Arizona in the NL West and two behind St. Louis in the wild card race.
"That's what we play for -- wins," Bonds said. "It'll be fun if we win the next two."
Bonds only needs to homer in Houston's Enron Field, where the Giants play Oct. 2-4, to have homered in all current NL parks in his career.
Bonds' homer was his 100th career RBI against Los Angeles and his first homer in 29 at-bats this season at Dodger Stadium.
Bonds' 561st homer puts him within two of Reggie Jackson for seventh place in major league history. Bonds needs one RBI to equal his career best of 129 set in 1996.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.