BARRY BONDS now has 53 homers

Friday, August 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The next time Barry Bonds speaks to Willie Mays, he'll have a special message for his godfather and hero.

``He'll probably call to congratulate me, and I'll have to say something like, 'I gotcha,''' Bonds said.

Bonds hit two home runs Thursday, breaking Mays' Giants season home run record and boosting his major league-leading total to 53 as he led San Francisco over the Florida Marlins 5-3.

Bonds hit a solo homer in the fourth, then put the Giants in front with a three-run drive in the eighth. The second homer put him past Mays, who hit 52 homers in 1965, and gave the Giants a sweep of the Marlins.

``It's nice, because my godfather held it,'' Bonds said of the record. ``It's something I'll remember forever.''

For one of the few times during the Giants' surge into playoff contention with 17 wins in their past 20 games, Bonds carried his teammates to a victory. Most times this season, Bonds has been only one of many contributors to the Giants' potent offense.

``Lately, they all seem to be clutch homers, putting us back in a game or putting us ahead,'' Rich Aurilia said of Bonds. ``It'll be fun to look back on what he's done, but right now we're all concentrating on scoring runs.''

Bonds' latest step on the fastest home run pace in baseball history was one of the most impressive days yet in his magical season. With 41 games left in San Francisco's season, he's 17 homers short of Mark McGwire's record.

``I'm accomplishing things I never thought I could do,'' Bonds said. ``I was surprised by (hitting) 50 homers, because I had never done it. When I had 39 at the All-Star break, I was surprised. I just hope I can carry it on all the way through.''

Bonds' first homer also broke the NL record for left-handed hitters, set by Johnny Mize with the New York Giants in 1947.

San Francisco, leading the NL wild card race, moved within a half-game of idle Arizona, the NL West leader.

A.J. Burnett (8-9) allowed just two hits over the first seven innings, but pinch hitter Pedro Feliz led off the eighth with a double, and Marvin Benard drove him home. Aurilia then singled, and the Marlins brought in Vic Darensbourg to face Bonds.

After having words with umpire Mike Winters over a called strike, Bonds crushed Darensbourg's next pitch, then momentarily stood in the batter's box to watch as the ball soared over the fence in one of Pacific Bell Park's deepest parts.

Manager Tony Perez thought he had the right pitcher in the game to face Bonds, who was 1-for-7 with three strikeouts against Darensbourg.

``Most of the time it works, but the way we're going, nothing works,'' Perez said.

Bonds, who said he only hoped to move the runners along before Darensbourg fed him an inside fastball, rounded the bases to a ground-shaking ovation, then stepped out of the dugout for a curtain call.

Bonds' prowess got a victory for Tim Worrell (2-2), even though the right-hander allowed Alex Gonzalez's a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning and barely escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth.

Robb Nen walked the leadoff batter in the ninth but finished strong for his 35th save in 41 chances to pass Los Angeles' Jeff Shaw for the NL lead.

Bonds' first homer, a solo shot, barely reached the top of the elevated fence that separates the park from McCovey Cove. The crowd gave Bonds a standing ovation as he rounded the bases, and another ovation when he took the field in the fifth inning.

``You just try to go after him with your best stuff,'' Burnett said of Bonds. ``He's definitely got a shot at the record.''

San Francisco averaged eight runs a game during a streak that ended Tuesday night, but the Marlins shut down the Giants in the final two games of their series _ until Bonds' heroics.

Shawn Estes had one of the better starts in the slumping left-hander's last two months, allowing six hits and striking out three.

Notes: Bonds made a tough catch with the sun in his eyes in left for the second out of the ninth. ... McGwire hit 47 homers in the Cardinals' first 121 games in 1998 on his way to 70. ... J.T. Snow had been hitting .500 since returning from the DL last week, but he went 0-for-4.