SAN FRANCISCO -- Derek Lowe's matchups with Barry Bonds have been limited because until this season the pitcher played in the American League.
With Bonds leading off the inning twice and coming to the plate with the bases empty in another at-bat, Lowe figured why not go after the slugger.
"You look forward to pitching against him," Lowe said. "He's the best player out there."
Lowe won his third straight decision, rookie Willy Aybar drove in a career-high three runs and Jose Cruz Jr. hit an RBI triple in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 7-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night.
Bonds nearly made Lowe pay in their first meeting in eight years.
In his third start since coming off the 60-day disabled list Monday, Bonds had everybody gasping when he hit a towering shot that splashed into McCovey Cove beyond the right-field fence -- but it was foul by two feet. A canoeist in the cove jumped out of his boat to retrieve the ball on a chilly night.
"I did have it. It just didn't stay between the yellow lines," Bonds said.
Bonds, with flashbulbs still clicking at his every move, almost had career homer No. 704. He began to run toward first then said "Oh," smiling as he headed back for the batter's box. He flied out to center four pitches later.
"My jaw didn't drop," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "I've seen it before. It was hit hard."
In his first at-bat, Bonds grounded out on the first pitch he saw in the second. He flied out to center again in the seventh, and a mass exodus of fans followed moments later. Todd Linden then replaced Bonds in left field.
Manager Felipe Alou hopes Bonds will play three of the four games against the Dodgers, likely taking Saturday's day game off since it follows a night game -- often Bonds' practice in recent seasons. Bonds made his season debut Monday after recovering from three operations on his right knee since Jan. 31.
Tracy didn't even have to be asked how he would handle the seven-time NL MVP.
"I'm walking him," Tracy said with a smile before the game.
"More than likely, he's the best offensive player in the history of this game. That's who he is. ... I was teasing him the other day, I said, 'Unless you come to the plate with two crutches and a handicap sign around your neck, if you have one crutch and a ball bat, we're going to have to consider walking you,' and he laughed."
Aybar, recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Aug. 28, hit a two-run single in the second and singled in another run in the third. His big night helped Los Angeles move within 5½ games of the NL West-leading San Diego Padres, who had the day off and begin a three-game series at home with Washington on Friday.
Lowe (11-13) pitched eight strong innings to beat the Giants for the first time in five career starts. He allowed Pedro Feliz's second-inning home run and three other hits, struck out four and walked one.
The Dodgers knocked out Giants starter Brad Hennessey (4-8) after 2 2/3 innings, loading the bases in the second and third innings. By the fourth, seven of Los Angeles' nine starters had hits. Hennessey, whose winless stretch reached nine starts, allowed five runs and six hits, struck out three and walked two.
"The first inning was a beauty -- slider, sinker, his location," Alou said. "The second inning was all the opposite. The third inning was the same as the second."
The Dodgers got great production from the bottom of the order. No. 7 hitter Mike Edwards singled twice, doubled, drove in a run and scored as a last-minute fill in for Ricky Ledee, while Jayson Werth added an RBI single and scored in the eighth slot. Even Lowe singled and drew a walk.
Dioner Navarro, hitting sixth, added an RBI double for the Dodgers, singled and scored twice.
Feliz reached 20 home runs and 80 RBI for the season. ``I just go in there every day and try to get the most every time," he said. ... Ledee was a late scratch with an irritated left hamstring. Tracy hopes he will be ready Saturday. ... Dodgers 1B Olmedo Saenz left with a strained left oblique muscle. ... Giants RHP Jason Schmidt is still a question mark to start Saturday. He threw a bullpen session at 90 percent Wednesday to test his pulled right groin and was pain-free a day later. ... Aybar, who has a six-game hitting streak, had never had a two-RBI game. ... Hennessey hasn't won since July 28 at Milwaukee.