While Clemens' first relief appearance in 23 years was Sunday's top curiosity, Lowry's timely toughness should have a much bigger effect on the San Francisco Giants.
Bonds scored twice on sacrifice flies, Lowry pitched two-hit ball into the sixth inning and the Giants beat the Yankees 7-2, taking two of three from New York after snapping an eight-game losing streak one day earlier.
Ray Durham had a late two-run double and Guillermo Rodriguez drove home a run with his first career extra-base hit for the Giants. They enjoyed Clemens' cameo in the seventh inning as much as their fans, with many standing at the dugout rail to watch the anticlimax of Bonds' stroll to first.
They were more excited when Lowry (7-6) hung tough against A-Rod to keep the Giants in front. Rodriguez's grounder drove in one run, but the Yankees' best rally ended moments later.
"That's something you live for," said Lowry, who walked five during an erratically effective start. "That's what this game is all about -- those battles. As we all know, he's a great hitter. We were just trying to get a groundball, and we got what we wanted. ... That's what drives us, having your back against the wall, and you persevere."
Clemens walked Bonds and allowed Nate Schierholtz's sacrifice fly while pitching the seventh inning -- the Rocket's first regular-season relief appearance since he was a rookie with the Red Sox in 1984.
"If the manager trusts you enough to put you in, you want to be ready," Clemens said. "I watched the last couple of days. Any chance I can give the bullpen guys a chance to rest -- they've been taxed."
The 44-year-old right-hander volunteered to spell the Yankees' weary relievers after Saturday's 13-inning loss, doing his usual off day throwing on the mound instead of in the bullpen. Clemens' only other regular-season relief appearance was in his 13th career game, when he allowed two hits over two innings in Oakland on July 18, 1984.
Manager Joe Torre wasn't disappointed by the result of Clemens' meeting with Bonds.
"It was a matter of him being the best option at the time," Torre said of Clemens. "In this series, Barry Bonds showed he was more than a home run hitter. Fans may be disappointed, but he can do more things than hit home runs."
Clemens ended the longest stretch between regular-season relief appearances in major league history at 22 years, 341 days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Steve Carlton went 15 years, 343 days between relief appearances in 1971 and 1987.
Bonds, who fled the Giants' clubhouse before reporters were allowed inside, singled, walked twice and stole a base, but remained at 749 career homers after reliever Ron Villone hit him with a pitch in the eighth.
The Yankees managed just five hits against Lowry and three relievers, and captain Derek Jeter's 17-game hitting streak ended.
"It's frustrating," said Rodriguez, who went 9-for-13 in the series. "As well as we swung the bats in this series, we didn't get any runs to show for it. San Francisco got some confidence (Saturday), and got us again today."
Reliever Kyle Farnsworth, who allowed three runs in one-third of an inning, also shattered a bat in the dugout Sunday.
Mike Mussina (3-5) yielded five hits and two earned runs while laboring through five innings, leaving him with just one victory in his last eight starts.
The Yankees kept catcher Jorge Posada and outfielder Bobby Abreu out of the starting lineup, but both appeared as pinch hitters in the seventh. Johnny Damon also pinch-hit in the seventh, hitting a one-out single before stealing second and advancing to third on a throwing error.
But Posada grounded into the Yankees' second out, and Randy Messenger struck out Abreu.
The Giants exploited Posada's early absence by stealing five bases against backup Wil Nieves in the first five innings -- their most in a game since July 11, 2002. Manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants took advantage of Mussina, not Nieves.
"We ran the bases well, got hits, got the bunt down," Bochy said. "We played a good brand of baseball today, and that's what it takes to beat a team like that."
Bonds singled and stole second to open the second inning, eventually scoring on Pedro Feliz's sacrifice fly. Ryan Klesko then scored on an RBI double by Rodriguez, a 12-year minor league catcher finally getting a chance with the Giants.
The Giants pushed home an unearned run in the fourth when Lowry bunted and Schierholtz slid home to beat first baseman Miguel Cairo's horrible 20-foot throw, which actually bounced in front of Nieves.
- With Juan Marichal in attendance for a reunion of the Giants' loss to the Yankees in the 1962 World Series, Mussina missed the chance to tie the Marichal for 49th place on the career list with his 243rd victory.
- San Francisco's Mark Sweeney got his 145th pinch hit in the sixth, tying Smokey Burgess for third place on the career list.
- Nieves' throwing error in the fourth was the Yankees' first error while Mussina was on the mound this season.