Barry Bonds' home-run chase and his team's pennant race continue to intertwine, with he and the Giants moving a step closer to their ultimate goals.
Bonds, after his two-homer game Sunday in San Diego, hit a seventh-inning shot off James Baldwin during the Giants' 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
With the swing, Bonds became the second-most prolific home-run hitter in a single season, with 67, moving ahead of Sammy Sosa. Next target: Mark McGwire and his record 70 homers set in 1998.
"Barry will probably win the MVP this year, especially with the amount of homers he's hit that meant something," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "That bears a lot of weight with me. It's not only numbers, but when you hit them."
The win moved the Giants to within 1 1/2 games of idle Arizona in the National League West. They also cut St. Louis' lead to two games in the wild-card race.
Bonds had been 2-for-28 at Dodger Stadium before hitting a liner just over the short right-field fence. It had been the only NL park in which Bonds has played that he had not homered in this season.
Bonds was facing Baldwin for the first time in his career. He had been pitched carefully to in three previous plate appearances, walking twice. Bonds has walked 157 times, and needs eight more in his team's final 11 games to tie McGwire's NL record. Babe Ruth has the major-league record with 170 in 1927.
"I made a mistake and he made me pay for it," Baldwin said. "That's why he's got 67 home runs. But we've just got to keep attacking him."
Bonds reached his homer total quicker than anyone is history, in the Giants' 151st game, 11 faster than it took McGwire.
His homer gave the Giants a 2-0 lead.
"I don't really make too many adjustments up there. I know where I want to be in my hitting position," Bonds said. "It's hard enough to make contact as it is, let alone try to think too much and make too many changes."
Livan Hernandez (13-14) allowed his only run in the bottom of the inning on an Adrian Beltre homer.
After Hernandez exited after giving up three hits and one run, Felix Rodriguez escaped a bases-loaded situation in the eighth.
"That's what we play for -- wins," Bonds said. "It'll be fun if we win the next two."
The antipathy between these rival franchises was evident when plans were being discussed about what should happen if Bonds hits an historic homer at Dodger Stadium.
Citing intense National League playoff races and their history with the Giants, the Dodgers rejected a request from the commissioner's office to consider honoring Bonds if he surpasses McGwire's record of 70 homers in the three-game series at Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers will not stop a game to permit Bonds to address the crowd, or conduct a postgame on-field ceremony.
"We would not recognize one of their players during that stretch run. We don't believe our fans want to sit through a ceremony for the Giants in Dodger Stadium," said Derrick Hall, Dodger senior vice president.