Big blasts decide night for Giants
Three dingers sink Rockies in season series finale
DENVER -- While Barry Bonds enhanced his history with his 762nd career home run, other Giants continued rewriting their pasts in San Francisco's 5-3 victory on Wednesday night over the Colorado Rockies.Kevin Correia, formerly deemed not good enough to be a starter, strengthened his bid to join the rotation full-time by limiting the National League's second-highest scoring team to one run and four hits in six innings. Bengie Molina, who toiled professionally for seven seasons before establishing himself as a Major League regular, further legitimized himself by smacking his 100th career home run. Their efforts, combined with Pedro Feliz's pair of RBIs on a home run and a triple, helped the Giants break their four-game losing streak and sent them home happy from a mostly fruitless 2-4, two-city trip. The Giants' 63rd triumph of the season assured them of avoiding 100 defeats, which they have amassed only once in franchise history. Correia (4-6) kept building his case to be the Giants' biggest September story. Beginning with his Aug. 14 spot start in Atlanta, when he commanded management's attention with 4 1/3 scoreless innings, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts. He has issued only two walks -- including none on Wednesday -- while striking out 13 in those outings. Manager Bruce Bochy has been fully aware of Correia's desire to find a place in the starting rotation, which he joined temporarily in abbreviated stints from 2003-05. "You can tell he's comfortable there," Bochy said. "That's where he wants to be and he's pitching to stay there." Correia also received Bonds' endorsement: "I think he's pitched better as a starter than he did out of the bullpen." Correia, who replaced the injured Russ Ortiz in the rotation, no longer feels undue pressure to excel, as he did in previous trials as a starter. "Coming up on a team like the Giants, we're trying to win," Correia said. "You're not letting guys get comfortable. ... It is a tougher situation. You do have to look over your back because you know you're not going to be in there very long if you're not pitching well. Definitely in the past it was like that, but I understood why." Against Colorado, Correia built on his recent success mainly by spotting his fastball with precision. "Sometimes it sinks, sometimes it cuts," said Molina, his catcher. Correia retired 13 of the first 15 batters he faced, including nine in a row spanning the second and fifth innings. "It started with him tonight," Bochy said. Offensively, it started with Bonds, who delivered his 28th home run of the season in the first inning after Nate Schierholtz doubled. Bonds, who leads all Rockies opponents with 26 Coors Field homers, victimized hard-throwing rookie Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3) by driving a high 1-2 fastball barely over the left-field barrier. Jimenez became the 449th pitcher to yield a homer to Bonds, extending the slugger's Major League record. "I think that pitch was 99 [mph]," Bochy said. "At 43 years old, to still have the bat speed he does, it's incredible." Does the challenge of facing impressive young prospects such as Jimenez excite Bonds? "No, not really," the all-time home run leader said. "I'm too old for that now." Bonds, who said that his back stiffened in the cool, rainy conditions, graciously praised Jimenez. "He's going to be good, man," Bonds said. "He's got a lot of talent." Few people held that opinion of Molina when the Angels signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 1993. Fourteen years later, Molina owns two Gold Glove Awards, a World Series ring and a three-year, $16 million contract. He viewed his milestone homer, which he delivered leading off the sixth inning against reliever Jorge Julio, as another credential. "Especially because nobody thought I could be in the big leagues at first when I signed," Molina said. "When I reached the Major Leagues, everybody thought that I wouldn't stay for a long time. ... I'm not a home run-hitter at all, but for a very humble guy from a little town in Puerto Rico, it means a great deal." As he spoke, Molina glanced at his home run ball, which sat in a box at his feet. "A treasure for me," he said. Molina also has been a treasure for the Giants as their best clutch hitter and an anchor for the pitching staff. "He's so solid and so good on both sides of the ball," Bochy said. "He's been a joy to work with."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.