Sammy Sosa said he has had "goose bumps" watching the Pacific Bell Park crowd pull for Barry Bonds in his quest for his 600th home run.
"The fans are giving him a standing ovation every time," Sosa said before the Giants rallied for a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Wednesday night. "It's great to be in that position."
Sosa will be in a similar position soon. He has 483 home runs, 17 shy of becoming the 18th player to reach the 500-homer mark. Sosa only hopes that as he approaches the milestone, opposing pitchers will be as aggressive with him as the Cubs have been with Bonds.
"No question about it," Sosa said. "I'd like to see that for me too. It's good for baseball."
Kerry Wood gave Bonds every chance to reach the milestone Wednesday night. Eight of the nine pitches Wood threw to Bonds were strikes. But the best Bonds could muster was a double to right-center field in the fifth inning. He flied out to the warning track in the first and struck out in the third.
Juan Cruz walked Bonds in the eighth on an exploding 3-1 fastball that hit off Joe Girardi's glove and sailed to the screen. Bonds was then replaced by a pinch-runner, so he wasn't on the field to witness the Cubs' ninth-inning rally.
Alex Gonzalez led the charge with a single. Manager Bruce Kimm, playing for a tie on the road, had pinch-hitter Chad Hermansen sacrifice Gonzalez to second.
After Mark Bellhorn struck out, Bill Mueller ripped Robb Nen's offering to deep right field. Former Cub Shawon Dunston stumbled on his way back and couldn't make the catch. Gonzalez jogged home on the game-tying triple.
The Giants came back in the 10th against Antonio Alfonseca. Jeff Kent singled, advanced to third on Tom Goodwin's infield single and scored on Benito Santiago's dribbler toward third. Alfonseca fielded the ball but had no play.
The Cubs trailed 3-0 until Fred McGriff's two-run double in the eighth.
That gave McGriff 80 RBIs for the 15th consecutive season. The only player in history with a longer streak is Hank Aaron, who did it for 17 straight years.
Bonds, in search of his own milestone, might not be in the lineup Thursday. Manager Dusty Baker sometimes rests him in day games after night games.
But Bonds would still figure to get a chance as a pinch-hitter.
Wood challenged Bonds consistently Wednesday, firing five consecutive fastballs before freezing him on a 1-2 curveball to end the third inning.
No doubt Sosa admired Wood for that.
"Fans come to the ballpark to see the entertainment," Sosa said. "No question you want to win, and that comes first. But when people see Barry Bonds hit a home run, they leave the ballpark very happy."
If Bonds could face such aggressive pitchers all year long, he might be targeting Aaron's all-time mark of 755 home runs. But the 38-year-old Bonds said he has no chance to eclipse that mark. Does Sosa?
"Maybe yes, maybe no," he said. "Let's put it this way: Let me get to 500 first and then we'll see what happens."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times