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Bonds' 660th stolen by Payton04/09/2004 12:15 AM ET
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- If there was any doubt that Jay Payton robbed Barry Bonds of his 660th career homer Thursday night, David Wells tried to dispel that notion. "It was out, but Jay brought it back," said Wells, who made his first start for his hometown Padres in their first game at PETCO Park, a 4-3, 10-inning victory over the Giants. "To me, it was just one helluva long out. That's all it was." Bonds launched a high drive to the right of center field off the left-handed Wells with two out in the sixth inning and Payton leapt to the top of the 7 1/2-foot fence. Replays showed that his glove was above the top of the fence, which is marked by a thick yellow stripe. Payton was playing deep on the play. "He was playing me back on the warning track, that little runt," Bonds said. "What the [heck], I hit the ball hard." Bonds was 0-for-4 in the game, with two infield pops and a groundout added to the snag by Payton. He was also walked intentionally in the eighth with two out and a runner on first base. The Padres were leading 1-0 at the time. Bonds is 1-for-10 (a bloop single) with three intentional walks in the three games since hitting his 659th homer against the Astros in Houston on Monday night. Three former Yankees -- Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Wells -- made those three starts. Bonds' next homer will tie him with his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the all-time list. Babe Ruth is in second place with 714 homers and Hank Aaron is the leader with 755. Save for the line shot to right-center that almost became the first homer in the new ballpark, Bonds seemed to be pressing a little. "I remember Henry Aaron going weeks trying to hit a milestone home run," said Commissioner Bud Selig, who was in attendance to commemorate the opening of the new Padres digs. "It happens to the best of the great players, and Barry may be trying a little too hard right now." Thursday was the 30th anniversary of Aaron passing Ruth to go into first place on the all-time homer list. Mays again sat in waiting for his godson to catch and pass him on the same list. The historical dominos were all ready to fall. When Wells hung a 1-and-1 cut fastball, Bonds met it with the meat of his bat. "He hit a pitch that hung and went out and got it. I was very impressed," said Wells, who signed this offseason with the Padres as a free agent. "He just went out and really smacked it. He hit that low. When you hang a pitch, usually it's a bomb. But he just went out and smoked it." The ball ripped toward a small bleacher section just to the right of the green batting eye. That portion of the fence has plastic panels so fans can see through it to the field. Payton, who is listed as 5-feet-10, used every bit of his vertical leaping ability to get up there. "I thought it had a shot to go out because I was playing deep," said Payton, who also signed in the offseason as a free agent with the Padres. "I knew it had a chance. It didn't have quite enough air in it, I guess." Payton, though, said he wasn't sure if the ball would have gone out if he didn't get to it. "That's padding on the top of the fence, so there's a chance it might have hit the top of it and bounced out anyway," Payton said. "But it was hit so hard there's also a chance that it might have gone through it." Bonds did about an hour of weight lifting immediately after the game because he is traveling to Los Angeles on Friday so he can oversee construction underway on new house he is having built. By the time he emerged from the weight room and took a shower, the clubhouse was empty. "It's been a long day," he said. Wells, who went seven scoreless innings, walked one, struck out none and allowed only four hits, said he will go right after Bonds again the next time he faces him. "I'm going to challenge Barry, and Barry knows it," Wells said. "I'm not going to go out and walk him unless I have to. I've been known to hang a few pitches here and there." He hung one Thursday night. "I got away with it," Wells said. "I'm glad he didn't get the record on my watch. But he's going to get it off somebody. When he does, I'll smile for him."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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