SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds is starting to get his groove back with base hits and good at-bats -- exactly what manager Felipe Alou wants to see from his slugger.
The home runs, Alou insists, will follow.
Neither Bonds nor his Cardinals counterpart, Albert Pujols, hit one out of the ballpark in their first meeting of the year. It was 5-foot-9, 175-pound Omar Vizquel who homered with a two-run shot in the San Francisco Giants' 9-2 victory over St. Louis on Monday night.
It was Vizquel's first home run in two seasons playing in San Francisco's waterfront ballpark, a span of 345 at-bats and the longest stretch for any player.
Bonds went 1-for-3 with an RBI and Jamey Wright won his third straight start, holding Pujols without a homer after he'd connected in three straight games.
Pujols, Bonds, Vizquel? Sounds a little strange.
"That's right. Same group, same order," Vizquel, 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, said with a grin. "I was expecting a fastball. I got it and I hit it well. Finally. I'm not a guy who hits home runs. I have to celebrate and I can talk some trash in the dugout and make fun of the other guys."
Bonds, as thrilled to be back home as his fans were to see him, remained at 714 home runs, one shy of moving past Babe Ruth and into sole possession of second place on the career list.
The kayaks and other forms of creative water craft were out in force again in McCovey Cove beyond the right-field fence, hoping for a milestone souvenir ball from Bonds. He has splashed 31 of his homers into the water.
Bonds singled to right in the first, had an RBI groundout in the third, flied out to shallow center in the fifth and walked on four pitches leading off the eighth to chants of "Barry! Barry!" Fans booed when Tyler Johnson's pitches didn't come close to the plate -- and somebody tossed a rubber chicken into right field in protest.
Bonds was then lifted for pinch-runner Jason Ellison following his 44th walk of the year.
The seven-time NL MVP left his home fans to wait a week for another chance to witness history after going six games without a homer from May 9-14 in games against the Chicago Cubs and rival Los Angeles Dodgers. He ended a nine-game homerless stretch with a solo shot for No. 714 on Saturday against Oakland's Brad Halsey.
Fans jumped to their feet as soon as Bonds began moving from the on-deck circle to the batter's box Monday, with flashbulbs lighting up every section of the stadium on a breezy evening in the Bay Area. Even the Cardinals climbed to the top of the dugout stairs for an unobstructed view.
Pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney hit a two-run single in the eighth, Randy Winn drove in two runs and the Giants won for the sixth time in seven games. They swept Houston last week, then took two of three from the Athletics in a weekend interleague series across the bay.
Pujols finished 1-for-4 with a double and a strikeout, and Juan Encarnacion had an RBI groundout in the second for St. Louis, which had its five-game winning streak snapped. But the Cardinals could manage little else offensively against Wright after outscoring their opponents 30-14 during the streak.
"I just went right after him. I went after him with sinkers and cutters," Wright said, referring to Pujols. "I was trying not to challenge him with anything straight. I've had confidence all year since I won that job out of spring training."
Wright (5-3) pitched eight strong innings and doubled leading off the fifth before scoring on Winn's go-ahead double. Winn also had an eighth-inning sacrifice fly and Vizquel followed with his third homer of the year. Wright allowed six hits, struck out four and walked two -- including a strikeout of Pujols on three pitches to end the first.
"He's as good as anybody right now," catcher Mike Matheny said.
Bonds had hit three home runs in 14 at-bats against Mark Mulder (5-2), who allowed the double to Winn and then an RBI groundout by Pedro Feliz two batters later. The lefty threw 120 pitches in 6 1-3 innings and saw his three-start winning streak end.
"The command wasn't there when I needed it," Mulder said. "I was just battling all game. That's all there is to it. I didn't feel comfortable at all tonight. I should have given up 10."
Pujols homered in three straight games and has a major league-leading 22 homers. He reached that total in only 44 games, the second-fewest in baseball history. Bonds did it in 43 games in 2001 on the way to 73 homers to break Mark McGwire's single-season record of 70.
"I love it!" Bonds said Monday of Pujols' success so far. "I hope he shatters it."
Bonds, dogged by allegations of steroid use and a perjury investigation, and Pujols played on the same field for the first time this season.
"I don't ever want to be in the life he's having," Pujols said in the clubhouse after taking some cuts in the cage. "Most of the things he's said in that show, I don't want to go through."
That show would be "Bonds on Bonds," the slugger's television program.
Once Bonds hits No. 715, only home run king Hank Aaron's 755 will be left for him to chase.
"He's doing something in baseball that's going to be tough to accomplish," Pujols said. "If he can get to (Aaron's record), that's unbelievable. That's the guy everybody needs to look up to."