Barry Bonds' left elbow is better. It shows in his home run stroke.
Bonds homered in his first two at-bats for the second straight game and drove in a season-high five runs as the San Francisco Giants beat Cincinnati 11-1 Saturday night.
Bonds, limited to 51 games because of a sore left elbow and an injured groin, looked like the Bonds of old as he helped send the Reds to their most lopsided loss of the season.
"It looks like he's getting quicker," manager Dusty Baker said. "His timing's getting better. He carried us almost by himself tonight."
"It's just freed up my arm," Bonds said. "But you can have a couple of good days and go right back in (a slump). This is baseball."
This was vintage Bonds.
Bonds hit a three-run homer in the first inning off erratic Ron Villone (5-4) and added a two-run shot in the third, giving him four homers all off left-handers in a span of six at-bats.
Bonds also hit solo homers in his first two at-bats against Denny Neagle in a 7-4 loss Friday night.
"Bonds settled it right quick," Reds manager Jack McKeon said.
It was Bonds' third multihomer game this season and the 38th of his career, moving him ahead of Stan Musial, Ted Williams and Juan Gonzalez into 20th place on the all-time list.
With his four homers in the series, Bonds raised his career total in Cincinnati to 28. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt hit 29 in Cincinnati, the most by a visiting player.
While Bonds supplied the offense, Shawn Estes (7-6shut the Reds down for a second consecutive start. He held the Reds to one run on three hits in eight innings last Sunday on a 66-degree afternoon in San Francisco, and was just as tough on a muggy 99-degree evening in Cincinnati.
The left-hander gave up seven hits in eight innings, including Jeffrey Hammonds' solo homer in the sixth. He also singled and scored a run and held out for 106 pitches.
"It's only hot if you allow it to be," Estes said. "I drank about 30 bottles of water over the last two days and did everything I could not to let the heat get the best of me."
"The training staff did a great job of keeping me cool between innings. I used three shirts, two jerseys, five pairs of socks and two pairs of spikes tonight."
Villone, moved into the rotation out of necessity after spending his career in the bullpen, has been either overpowering or underwhelming in his 11 starts. In his best five, Villone has a 1.20 ERA. In the other six, his ERA is 10.58.
Asked why he's been a pitcher of such extremes, Villone said, "I wish I knew."
"One pitch I left right down the middle and Barry cranked it," Villone said. "They hit the ball decent when I left it over the middle. They were hitting line drives and driving in runs when they had to."
Villone gave up seven runs on eight hits, walked four and threw a pair of wild pitches in six innings Saturday, setting the Reds up for only their second loss in eight games.
After F.P. Santangelo walked to start the game and Bill Mueller singled, Bonds came up with one out. Villone's second pitch was an up-and-in fastball that drove Bonds backward. He paused a few seconds outside the batter's box before digging in again.
Villone threw his next pitch inside again, and Bonds hit it 427 feet into the second deck in right field, flipping his bat away and walking towards first as he watched the flight of the ball.
In the third, Charlie Hayes singled and Bonds homered to right field again for a 5-0 lead and raised two fingers as he crossed the plate and headed for the dugout. Villone let in another run later in the inning on a wild pitch.
Bonds' second homer was the 427th of his career, moving him one ahead of Billy Williams into 25th place on the career list.
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