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It’s a Barry Good Day in Colorado

From Associated Press

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 4-4 tie with a two-run homer earlier in the 11th.

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“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.

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

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

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“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.”

Buddy Bell, the Rockies’ manager, 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.”

Playing at Coors Field, Bonds broke Maris’ record of 61 for most homers in a season by a left-handed hitter.

Bonds has 18 games left to break McGwire’s record of 70 set in 1998. Bonds is now eight games ahead of McGwire’s pace.

After an off-day today, Bonds and the Giants begin a series at Houston’s homer-friendly Enron Field.

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The victory increased San Francisco’s lead in the NL wild-card race to one game over St. Louis and 1 1/2 over the Dodgers.

Bonds connected for his second three-homer game of the season. He also did it May 19 at Atlanta. He hit solo homers in the first and fifth innings Sunday.

Bonds also became the fastest to reach 63 homers, 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 1-1 count, Bonds launched a 488-foot solo shot off Colorado’s Scott Elarton--the third-longest homer in Coors Field history. Bonds’ soaring drive struck a beer sign beyond the center-field wall.

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

Maris, whose record stood for 37 years, had been surpassed only by McGwire and Sammy Sosa--both right-handed hitters. Sosa hit 66 in 1998.

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

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

Bonds had gone homerless on Friday and Saturday in hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Benito Santiago led off the 11th with a walk, and Snow homered off Belitz (0-1). Marvin Benard then walked and Rich Aurilia singled, setting up Bonds’ third homer.

Wayne Gomes (6-3) pitched the 10th to earn the win.

Greg Norton had three runs batted in, including a two-run homer, for Colorado.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Chasing History

Barry Bonds is in pursuit of Mark McGwire’s major league record 70 home runs, set in 1998:

HOMERS AFTER 144 GAMES

BARRY BONDS 2001: 63

MARK McGWIRE 1998: 61

* Bonds update: Hit three home runs in 9-4 victory at Colorado.

* Factoid: In 1998, McGwire hit his 63rd home run in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 152nd game.


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