PITTSBURGH -- Ultimately, Barry Bonds dominated the landscape -- which on this Friday night should have been a frozen tundra -- in the Giants' 8-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. But on many nights, the glory would have belonged exclusively to Russ Ortiz, who reached a milestone in his pitching renaissance by winning his first game since 2005. Returning to the city where he began his Major League career 21 years ago, Bonds delivered a dynamic performance before a PNC Park crowd that booed him fiercely. He homered twice, boosting his career total to 737, in a 3-for-3, four-RBI effort. Bonds went deep off Pirates starter Zach Duke in the second inning before victimizing Shawn Chacon in the fourth for his 70th career multi-homer game.
Asked about reaching the 3,000-hit plateau before the game, Bonds said, "I just want to get three more hits, let alone 3,000." He accomplished that modest goal, besides reducing the gap separating him and all-time home run leader Hank Aaron to 18. From a personal perspective, Ortiz did much more. He had lost his last 12 decisions, spanning 16 starts and 31 appearances, dating back to Aug. 29, 2005. The right-hander had recorded an ugly 7.78 ERA in that stretch, as both Arizona and Baltimore cast him aside. But that Ortiz has been replaced by, in a sense, the old Ortiz -- the one who won 99 games between 1999 and 2004. Regaining the pitching mechanics he used in that period, the old/new Ortiz ended his winless streak and came one out short of notching his first complete game since Sept. 4, 2004, at Montreal. "It allows me to move on," said Ortiz (1-1). "I didn't realize how long it was until people reminded me. One thing I learned from the last year and a half was to make pitches and not worry about results and everything will be fine." Ortiz had to share the glory with the offense, which suddenly flourished after nine mostly barren games. The Giants, who ranked last in the National League in scoring, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, scored seven runs in the first two innings off the left-handed Duke, more than they had amassed in any of their previous nine games. "Tonight we played offensively the way we feel like we're capable of playing every day," first baseman Rich Aurilia said. "Now we just have to concentrate on doing this two days in a row." Bonds launched a five-run, first-inning uprising off Duke (1-1) with an RBI single. And it ended with Ortiz driving a bases-loaded, two-run double into the left-field corner on a 3-1 fastball from Duke. "I told myself, don't try to do too much," Ortiz said. "He got behind on me and I was able to relax and I just reacted." Ortiz also relaxed on the mound after surrendering a pair of first-inning runs. He permitted five hits while blanking Pittsburgh from the second through the eighth, allowing just one runner to reach scoring position. Sensing that he was too predictable in the first inning, Ortiz simply altered his pattern thereafter.
"That was the difference -- mixing up speeds and locations and not letting them sit on one spot," he said.Ortiz nearly finished with a flourish in the ninth, but he surrendered singles to Ronny Paulino with one out and Nate McLouth with two out. Manager Bruce Bochy visited Ortiz and left him in the game, reasoning that McLouth's hit was a seeing-eye grounder. The next batter, Chris Duffy, produced anything but that, clobbering a three-run homer. Vinnie Chulk relieved Ortiz and retired Jack Wilson on a popup for the final out. Ortiz wanted to finish what he started, but he wasn't obsessed with doing so. "It stings a little bit," he said, adding, "At this point, I can't be too picky with wins."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.