Bonds ends power drought with first homer

DENVER -- Barry Bonds found his elusive power stroke in
Denver's thin air.

Bonds homered for the first time this season Saturday night at
Coors Field, sending a belt-high fastball from right-hander Aaron
Cook 384 feet to left for his 709th career home run.

After circling the bases, Bonds knocked fists with teammates
Moises Alou and Pedro Feliz and manager Felipe Alou as he descended
into the third-base dugout to jeers and a scattering of applause.

Bonds moved within five home runs of Babe Ruth for the most by a
left-handed hitter with 714. It came in his 31st at-bat and 14th

For San Francisco's surly slugger, it was one of the longest
homerless streaks to start the season. In 1998, he didn't homer
until his 13th game and 50th at-bat, the longest season-opening
drought of his career when healthy.

Hounded by steroid suspicions, a federal probe into his
testimony in the BALCO steroid case and baseball's investigation of
performance-enhancing drugs, Bonds got off to a slow start this
season despite a stellar spring.

Plagued also by sore knees, a swollen left elbow and few
pitchers willing to challenge him -- he walked 19 times before
hitting his first home run -- Bonds brought a .200 batting average
and just one RBI into Saturday night's game.

In the series opener Friday night, he swung at two of the 17
pitches he saw, flying out to the warning track in center field his
first time up, then drawing three straight walks before grounding
out to first.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle vowed not to pitch to Bonds if he
didn't have to: "Let him find his rhythm somewhere else.''

Bonds found it Saturday night in Denver, making Cook his 417th
victim and giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

On Friday night, Bonds, who has never been a fan of Denver
despite his 25 home runs at Coors Field, the most by an opposing
player, got the usual treatment as fans shouted "Juice!'' every
time he came up or made a play. One fan behind the Giants dugout
wore a tall hat shaped like a syringe.

The crowd had barely settled in Saturday night when Bonds walked
up to the plate, took a high fastball and then unleashed his first
homer of 2006, trotting around the bases for a change and not just
to first.