SAN FRANCISCO -- For an instant, Barry Bonds thought he had another home run. But for now, he's just a foot or two shy of his old sluggin' self.
In his season debut for San Francisco, Bonds strode to the plate Monday night, tipped his batting helmet to the roaring, flashbulb-popping crowd, then helped the Giants beat the first-place San Diego Padres 4-3.
"Truthfully, I felt I didn't want to let the city down," Bonds said. "That's the feeling you have out there. They came to see you play, and you really want to put on a good performance for them."
Bonds, who went 1-for-4 with a strikeout, worked a 3-2 count in his first at-bat and lined a double that fell just shy of clearing the wall in left-center.
It appeared that he had homered in his first trip to the plate since last October, but a fan reached over the fence and interfered with the ball, collecting it into the stands. The play was ruled a double.
The scoreboard briefly flashed "704" -- which turned out to be premature. Bonds scored moments later on Ray Durham's single. The fan was immediately ejected, consistent with policy for those who interfere with the game.
Bonds thought he might have hit it out, then found himself standing on second instead.
"I was wondering where the ball was," he said. "I was trying to get us a run."
Though this was Bonds' night all the way, Durham hit a solo homer that tied the game at 3 in the fourth. Durham finished with three hits and two RBI, showing he is a reliable option in the fifth hole behind Bonds if Moises Alou misses significant time with a pulled groin. Rudy Seanez even intentionally walked Durham after Bonds struck out in the seventh.
"I never thought that would happen," Durham said with a chuckle, referring to the notion of him getting walked and Bonds being pitched to. "He definitely brings a presence to our lineup."
San Francisco, which had lost five of six, improved to 3-0 while wearing its special "Gigantes" jerseys. Kinney, who made his Giants debut last Thursday against the Cubs, worked the longest relief outing of his career and the longest by a San Francisco pitcher since 2002.
San Diego (71-72), which could become the first first-place team with a record under .500, leads the NL West by five games over the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
San Francisco manager Felipe Alou has spoken so many times this year of looking forward to the day when he had both Bonds and closer Armando Benitez on the field -- and this was finally it. Benitez, who missed more than three months following surgery to reattach two torn hamstring tendons to the pelvis, pitched the ninth for his 13th save.
The Giants lost first baseman J.T. Snow to an injured left hamstring in the seventh when he grabbed his leg running out a single.
Playing for the first time following three operations this year on his troublesome right knee, Bonds led off the second for the Giants, stretching his bat above his head as he walked out of the dugout and acknowledging the fans before digging in against San Diego's Adam Eaton (10-4).
Thus began a wild, 11-pitch at-bat in which Eaton, who has given up three of Bonds' 703 career home runs, challenged Bonds with the crowd was on its feet all the way.
The sequence: ball one low and outside, ball two low and outside -- "Boo!" from the crowd. Called strike one, called strike two in tight -- Bonds mouthing the word "Wow" in disbelief at the call. Foul ball into the second deck, another foul behind him into the second-tier seats, two straight towering fouls into the right-field stands, ball low and away, a foul to left.
Then the double.
"He gave me the best at-bat I've seen this year in the first at-bat," Felipe Alou said. "I'm not talking about this team, I'm talking about any team."
In the third inning, Bonds hit a shallow fly to center in his second at-bat. He flied out to deep center in the fifth, and center fielder Dave Roberts banged into the wall after making the catch. Bonds struck out swinging in the seventh before Jason Ellison replaced him in the field to start the eighth.
The 41-year-old Bonds, resuming his quest for Hank Aaron's career home run record of 755, received a warm ovation when he took his spot in left field in the top of the first, tipping his hat to the cheering crowd of 39,095. The attendance included the sale of 1,142 walkup tickets.
A lengthy tribute and highlight show of the superstar played on the main center-field scoreboard before the first pitch, ending with "Welcome Back, Barry." Bonds is clearly loved in the Bay Area despite the steroids controversy surrounding him, though everybody expects far worse treatment on the road.
Rubber chickens returned to the ballpark souvenir stands for the first time this season -- for fans to wave if and when Bonds is walked. A few boats were in McCovey Cove beyond right field, with fans aboard hoping to catch a home run.
Bonds' presence has certainly boosted optimism among at least some of his teammates.
"I've been around some really great players," shortstop Omar Vizquel said. "A player like Barry brings a lot to a team -- emotional energy, positive thinking."
San Diego loaded the bases in the first against Kevin Correia and taking a 3-0 lead. Correia started in place of ace Jason Schmidt, who missed his turn with a groin pull. Correia failed to get out of the first inning, leaving to boos and running into the dugout for cover after one-third of an inning and just 27 pitches.
- The Giants' Justin Knoedler singled in the eighth for his first major-league hit.
- Benitez took over sole possession of 22nd place on the saves list with 257.
- Padres OF Ryan Klesko got another day off to recover from shoulder and neck soreness. He missed four games before returning Sunday against the Dodgers.
- Moises Alou, acquired in the offseason to bat behind Bonds, has a "fairly significant" groin pull according to trainer Stan Conte. "It's not minor," Conte said of the injury, sustained in Sunday's game against the Cubs.
- Kinney got his first big-league win since beating the Angels on June 8 last year while with Milwaukee.