06/15/06 2:20 AM ET
Finley, Bonds blast D-Backs
Veteran sluggers power 11-run outburst for win
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
Too old. Too injured. Too slow. Bad shoulder. Over the hill ... no, under the hill.
Yet it was Finley, the remarkably fit 41-year-old, who has been irreplaceable for San Francisco this season, filling in for a knee-weakened Barry Bonds and an injured Moises Alou, playing Gold Glove defense and hitting eight triples -- oldest guy ever to do that since Sam Rice did it 65 seasons ago.
On Wednesday, the venerable Finley reached a home run pinnacle, slamming a first-inning solo shot against Arizona in San Francisco's punishing 11-4 victory, giving him 300 lifetime homers and making him a card-carrying member of the exclusive 300 homer, 300 stolen base club.
He joins only six other players to accomplish that feat.
As a reward and a sign of affection, Finley was given a post-game beer shower in the clubhouse, but perhaps his proudest moment came as he touched home plate following the treasured four-bagger and was greeted by 12-year-old son Austin, an honorary batboy.
It had been a long wait for "Fins," who hadn't homered since May 31 in Florida and had gone hitless in 17 consecutive at-bats before Wednesday, when he also had two singles and scored three times.
"It means I've had a good, long, consistent career," said the 17-year veteran. "It's something I can be proud about whenever I'm finished playing. There's not too many guys who have done that.
"I'm glad I hit the home run," he said, "but we needed a win. To get a home run and the win made it even sweeter."
The victory halted the Giants' four-game losing streak and sent the D-Backs reeling to their eighth loss in the last nine games.
While Barry Bonds stole some of Finley's thunder by knocking a three-run homer in the ninth inning and ricocheting a 400-plus-foot, RBI single off the center field wall earlier, it would prove one of Finley's proudest moments.
"I got some hat tips from over there [the Arizona players] and that was nice," said Finley, a popular player for the Diamondbacks from 1999 to 2004. "If I couldn't do it in San Francisco, this is the place I wanted to do it."
Finley said hitting the historic homer was more of a relief than anything, but promised he'd relish it more when the year is over.
"I was really happy my son could be here -- I wish everybody could -- but it was nice having him greet me at home plate," said Finley, who said his recent offensive slide was due to slightly altering his hitting style because of expansive AT&T Park, which he felt had robbed him of some homers.
When hitting .350 earlier in the year he admitted getting "greedy," and tried to change to a more powerful swing to accommodate the hitter-unfriendly ballpark, but it wasn't paying off, as his average slid to around .245.
Now he's back to his Spring Training stance.
"I should have stuck with what was working -- I and got myself in a tailspin," said Finley.
Manager Felipe Alou said the 300 homers and 300 steals are wonderful, but called Finley "one of the best center fielders ever to play the position. Still at his age, you can see flashes of his greatness. He's been a great player and great man."
Lost in the post-game celebration for Finley was a decent, but hardly spectacular, effort by starting pitcher Matt Cain (5-5), who won his fourth straight decision by lasting five innings, along with shortstop Omar Vizquel's great 4-for-5 game with two doubles, two singles and three runs scored.
Cain took razzing from his rotation teammates, who have been partially victimized by lack of run support lately, but the rookie still said he felt good overall.
"I just got myself in bad situations," said the 21-year-old right-hander. "I'm never going to be happy giving up four runs, but I got those guys in hitters count and they took advantage of it."
Shawn Green hammered a two-run shot in the second inning, then Arizona scored twice more in the third, but the Giants bullpen shut down the D-backs over the final four frames, with Jonathan Sanchez, Steve Kline and Armando Benitez doing the job.
"Fortunately, I got two groundouts for double plays that helped," said Kline, who has pitched 17 scoreless efforts in his last 18 appearances. "I'm really happy that Sanchez kept us in the game [with a perfect sixth] and the hitters came through big-time."
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.