BONDS hits homerun number 46

Thursday, August 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Before Jason Schmidt moved on to the thick of the postseason race, he gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a parting reminder of just what they gave up when they traded him.

Barry Bonds hit his major league-leading 46th homer, and Schmidt pitched overpowering one-hit ball for seven innings against the team that just traded him as the San Francisco Giants beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 Wednesday night.

The Giants won their seventh straight game and moved two games behind NL West-leading Los Angeles with an excellent debut from Schmidt (7-6), who was sent to San Francisco by the league's worst team on Monday.

Schmidt wasn't angry about the trade, and he said he wouldn't consider his first start against the Pirates as a chance for revenge.

Pittsburgh likely didn't feel that way.

``It wasn't as bad as I thought,'' Schmidt said. ``The best thing was getting it over with early, and moving on.''

Though he admitted it was a somewhat surreal experience to pitch to his longtime teammates, Schmidt quickly proved which dugout holds his sympathies now.

With all four of his pitches working well, he faced just 22 batters _ one over the minimum _ and struck out eight, one shy of his season high.

``If he pitches like that, he'd have an advantage against everybody,'' Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said. ``He was throwing 90-95 (mph) and hitting both sides of the plate. When he throws like that, he can dominate anybody's lineup.''

After a strong July, Schmidt has allowed just 14 earned runs in his last seven starts, and not even a change of uniform could shake him out of his groove.

``He didn't show it, but I'm sure he was a little bit nervous and psyched,'' said Giants manager Dusty Baker, who hadn't seen Schmidt in action for nearly two years. ``It was an awesome performance. I had been told he was pitching well.''

Only Jason Kendall _ Schmidt's longtime catcher _ could solve him. Kendall homered in the fourth for the only hit against Schmidt.

``It was weird, because me and Schmitty came up together,'' Kendall said. ``We had a pretty good pitcher-catcher relationship. In my opinion, in his last five or six starts, he started to do some things that made me say, 'Wow.'''

Giants fans gave a standing ovation to Schmidt, who also drove in his second run of the season, as he headed to the dugout after the seventh.

``I was already amped to be a part of this, and walking off the field like that just adds to the excitement,'' Schmidt said.

Bonds immediately gave his new teammate a bit of run support. In the first inning, Bonds hit a drive off rookie Joe Beimel (5-7) onto the walkway atop the right field fence at Pacific Bell Park for a solo homer.

``With him up there, I'd much rather be in this dugout,'' Schmidt said. ``When he hit it, I said, 'Thank you, that's what it's all about right there.'''

Bonds' 540th career homer put him eight behind Mike Schmidt for eighth place on the career list and kept him on the record pace set by Babe Ruth, who also hit 46 homers in 108 games for the Yankees in 1921. Mark McGwire had 45 home runs through 108 games on his way to a record 70 in 1998.

Bonds finished 2-for-4 with a double.

Felix Rodriguez gave up Pittsburgh's second hit on Aramis Ramirez's single, but he pitched a scoreless eighth.

Robb Nen, who blew his sixth save on Tuesday night on Ramirez's two-run homer in the ninth, finished for his 31st save in 37 chances. Pittsburgh didn't leave a runner on base all night.

The Pirates, in the second of 15 straight games against NL West opponents, lost for the 12th time in 18 games. Beimel, in his 11th major league start, allowed six hits and two earned runs in 5 1-3 innings.

Pittsburgh's newest acquisition didn't fare as well as Schmidt. Armando Rios, who went to the Pirates in the trade, left the game in the second inning after twisting his left knee during a botched fielding play.

Rios converged with two teammates on Schmidt's popup to shallow right. While second baseman Warren Morris dropped the ball in the swirling winds, Rios fell awkwardly in front of him. Shawon Dunston scored on the play _ ruled a single _ to put San Francisco up 2-0.

Rios will have an MRI exam on Thursday.

Notes: Schmidt walked Brian Giles in the second inning, but he was erased on a double play. Ramirez also was out in a double play in the eighth. ... With 54 games to play for San Francisco, Bonds is just three homers away from matching the career high of 49 he set last season. ... Pac Bell Park was sold out for the second straight night with 41,251 fans. The Giants hadn't expected to sellout the midweek series against the Pirates before the team's flurry of trades piqued interest in San Francisco.