Originally created 07/10/01

Gonzalez beats Bonds and Sosa to win Home Run Derby



SEATTLE -- Hey Barry, Luis Gonzalez is baseball's home run king, at least for this week.

Gonzalez, who has crept up behind Barry Bonds in the race to break Mark McGwire's record, beat Sammy Sosa 6-2 in the finals Monday night to win the All-Star Home Run Derby.

Bonds was knocked out in the semifinals, and Alex Rodriguez didn't even make it out of the first round at Safeco Field, known more for pitching than bashing.

Bonds, whose 39 homers for San Francisco set a record at the All-Star break, hit the longest drive of the day, a 476-foot drive that a fan dropped out of the first row of the right field upper deck.

And Oakland's Jason Giambi put up the best show, hitting a Home Run Derby-record 14 in the first round before he was knocked out 8-6 by Sosa in the semifinals.

"I was honored to be in it," Giambi said, adding that it "gets the heart pumping."

But Gonzalez, whose 35 homers for Arizona this season have played the turtle to Bonds' hare, showed steady can succeed, too, hitting five homers in the first round, then beating Bonds 5-3 in the semifinals.

"I'm kind of in a fog. I was so nervous," said a wide-eyed Gonzalez. "I felt like a little kid."

Bonds played down the competition to reach the season record set in 1998, when Mark McGwire outhomered Sosa 70-66 as they both topped Roger Maris' previous mark of 61, set in 1961.

"Mark had Sammy pushing him," Bonds said. "Me and Gonzo - what the hell are we doing? There's no fight."

And Gonzalez said there's no pressure on him. Arizona leads the NL West by 3 1/2 games while Bonds' Giants are 5 1/2 games back.

"I kind of like where Barry's at right now," Gonzalez said, "because we're continuing to win games and it's not a distraction to our ballclub."

The Derby was somewhat lacking in drama. Unlike Baltimore's Camden Yards, which had the right-field warehouse, and Boston's Fenway Park, with its left field Green Monster, Safeco has no internal landmarks, and no one came close to putting one out of the 2-year-old ballpark.

And unlike Denver's Coors Field, where McGwire hit one 510 feet three years ago in the thin mountain air, no one came close to the 500-foot mark

Rodriguez saw a lot more dollar bills than home runs. Rodriguez, wearing large sunglasses that rested on the bill of his cap, was given a large ovation when he walked to the plate.

Fans threw confetti of replica dollar bills as Rodriguez walked to the plate and again when he walked away, a taunt for the record $252 million, 10-year contract he got when he left Seattle to sign with Texas last December.

Using the bat of former Seattle teammate Edgar Martinez, he connected just twice, at 415 and 364 feet.

He took some solace from the cheers that were mixed in with some boos.

"I couldn't believe the ovation I got," he said. "It was very nice. I'm flattered. You obviously want to put up a big showing."

Bonds hit seven in the first round, including a 472-foot upper deck homer to go along his with 476-foot shot.

Seattle's Bret Boone had just three homers and Colorado's Todd Helton had two. Anaheim's Troy Glaus had a rare Home Run Derby 0-fer.



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