Bonds equals home run record
The San Francisco slugger tied the record by slammnig a 1-1 pitch from Houston rookie Wilfredo Rodriguez over the right-centerfield wall to lead off the ninth inning.
The superstar left fielder had been pitched around by the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros since hitting his 69th homer on Saturday.
Houston pitchers had walked him three times Thursday night, but with the Giants already owning a 9-2 advantage going into the ninth, Rodriguez went after Bonds.
After being frustrated throughout the series, Bonds was ready to attack and he knew he had achieved baseball history the moment the ball left his bat.
He raised his arms in triumph before leaving the batter's box and he trotted to first base with his right arm raised skyward.
The crowd at Houston's Enron Field gave him a standing ovation as he celebrated his record-equaling home run.
Bonds has three games remaining in which to try to surpass McGwire and claim the record by himself. The Giants end the season with a three-game series beginning Friday night at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The home run by Bonds highlighted an eventful night in the National League as baseball heads into its final weekend of the regular season.
San Francisco stayed alive in the wild card race with its 10-2 victory over Houston while St. Louis clinched no worse than a wild card berth and moved one game ahead of the Astros in the National League Central with three games to play. Houston and St. Louis begin a three-game series tonight.
Atlanta, meanwhile, clinched at least a tie for the title in the NL East by downing the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-2, and Arizona remained two games in front of the Giants in the NL West by edging Colorado, 5-4.
And in San Diego, the Padres' Rickey Henderson became baseball's all-time leader in runs scored when he homered in the third inning against Los Angeles.
He broke Ty Cobb's record with his 2,246th career run. It was also the 2,998th hit of his career as he tries to become the 25th player to reach 3,000.
Other National League results: Florida 6, Montreal 2; Chicago 2, Cincinnati 0.
Colon roughed up in final start
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Making his last start before the postseason, Bartolo Colon was roughed up for six runs in the second inning Thursday as the Kansas City Royals rolled past the Cleveland Indians, 8-4.
A hard-throwing righthander, Colon (14-12) is scheduled to start at Seattle on Tuesday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. If that start is anything like this one, the Indians could be maknig a quick exit from the playoffs.
Colon retired just four batters while giving up four hits, four walks and six runs. He threw just 30 of 53 pitches for strikes and dug a 6-1 hole that even Cleveland's potent bats could not overcome.
In his previous three starts, Colon had gone 2-0, allowing just four runs in 24 1/3 innings. But he made this start on three days rest, one day less than usual but the normal amount during the postseason. He will have four days off before facing Seattle.
Other American League results: Minnesota 5, Detroit 4; Boston 5, Baltimore 4, Tampa Bay 4, New York 1; Oakland 5, Anaheim 1.
Flyers begin post-Lindros era
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Three players had mulitple-point games Thursday night as the Philadelphia Flyers rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers to begin the post-Eric Lindros era.
Jason Williams collected two goals and an assist and newcomers Jeremy Roenick and Eric Weinrich each added a goal and two assists for Philadelphia, which got 32 saves from Vezina Trophy finalist Roman Cechmanek.
Philadelphia rode a five-minute, goal-scoring flurry in the final period to a 4-1 lead.
Williams scored the go-ahead goal with 15:39 remaining when his centering pass from behind the net bounced off a player in front of the net and between goaltender Trevor Kidd's pads.
The Flyers increased their lead two minutes later, when John LeClair skated around the net and slipped the puck inside the left goalpost.
Roenick, a free agent who signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal on July 2, scored his first goal for Philadelphia at 9:21. He one-timed a pass from defenseman Eric Desjardins from the left faceoff circle for a power-play goal.
Other NHL results: Boston 4, Anaheim 2; Atlanta 2, Buffalo 1; Columbus 3, St. Louis 3; Montreal 6, Ottawa 4; Philadelphia 5, Florida 2; Chicago 5, Vancouver 4; Detroit 4, San Jose 3 in overtime.
David Toms leads on PGA Tour
WILLIAMSBURG, Va., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Recently crowned PGA champion David Toms put together a 7-under 64 Thursday that gave him a one-shot lead after one round of the Michelob Championship, an event he is trying to win for the second straight year.
Toms holed four putts of 30 feet or more at the Kingsmill Golf Club to continue a breakout season that has seen him climb to No. 5 on the money list with two victories and his first major title.
Those tied for second at 6-under 65 were Shigeki Maruyama, Neal Lancaster, Jimmy Green and J.J. Henry, who leaped into the top 60 on the money list last week with a second-place finish at the Texas Open.
Rookie Bryce Molder was among those at 66 while two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen was in the large group at 67. Justin Leonard, won won last week in Texas for the sixth victory of his PGA Tour career, had a 1-over 72.
Jimmy Spencer wins NASCAR pole
CONCORD, N.C., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Teammates Jimmy Spencer and Todd Bodine secured the top two spots Thursday night in qualifying for the NASCAR Winston Cup UAW-GM Quality 500.
Spencer drove his Ford Taurus to a top lap of 185.147 miles per hour at Lowe's Motor Speedway for his second pole position this season. He also started from the front in August at the Brickyard 400, but has not won on the Winston Cup circuit since 1994.
It is the second time this year the Haas-Carter Motorsports teammates will start 1-2. Bodine captured the pole and Spencer qualified second in July at the Tropicana 400 in Joliet, Ill.
While Spencer and Bodine each has a pole this year, Spencer has gone seven years without a Winston Cup victory and Bodine is seeking the first of his nine-year career.
Last week, Spencer announced he is leaving the team at the end of the year.
Berard signs with Rangers
NEW YORK, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Defenseman Bryan Berard, who nearly lost his right eye 18 months ago, completed his comeback Thursday by signing a one-year contract with the New York Rangers.
While the team would not disclose details, the New York Daily News reported it is a one-year pact for a guaranteed $2 million. It follows a pair of impressive preseason appearances, during which the 24-year-old had a plus-2 rating.
Berard will be added to the Rangers' active roster and could be in the lineup Friday night for the season opener against the Carolina Hurricnaes. According to the Daily News, he will be paired with two-time Norris Trophy winner Brian Leetch.
The newspaper also reported that the Rangers are putting together a four-year deal that will give them the option of picking up the final three years for $9.75 million.
Warren fined $35,000
NEW YORK, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The NFL Thursday fined Cleveland Browns rookie defensive tackle Gerard Warren $35,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell in last Sunday's game.
The incident occurred when Browns defensive lineman Orpheus Roye intercepted a shovel pass on Jacksonville's first play from scrimmage. Warren turned to block, took several steps to Brunell and leveled him with a high hit as the players' helmets collided.
Brunell suffered a concussion on the play and did not return. Afterwards, Brunell called it "a dirty hit."
Warren, the third overall pick in the 2001 draft, was not penalized on the play and denied any intent to injure Brunell.
NFL Director of Football Operations Gene Washington, who administers discipline for player-against-player violations, said in a letter to Warren that his hit on Brunell was a, "violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 11 (7) which states that a passer 'must not be unnecessarily contacted by the defense...in the event of a change of possession on the play, until the passer assumes a distinctly defensive position.'"
Wolves pick up option on Szczerbiak
MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday exercised the 2002-03 contract option on forward Wally Szczerbiak, who ignored trade rumors this summer to star in the Goodwill Games.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the option is worth no less than $2.3 million for the 2002-03 season. The Timberwolves also retain the right of first refusal when Szczerbiak becomes a restricted free agent after that campaign.
The sixth pick in the 1999 draft, Szczerbiak started all 82 games last season, averaging 14.0 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the field and 87 percent from the line.
Szczerbiak was Most Valuable Player of the Rookie Challenge at All-Star Weekend, scoring 27 points for the sophomores. A week later, his name was mentioned in a possible trade to the Chicago Bulls.
Those rumors persisted throughout the summer, but Szczerbiak was able to play through them, helping the United States to a gold medal in the Goodwill Games in Australia. He averaged 13.0 points and shot nearly 70 percent from the field in five games.
China nears World Cup berth
China virtually wrapped up its first trip ever to the World Cup Thursday when Qatar, which had been its chief rival in Asian qualifying, lost to the United Arab Emirates.
UAE won in Doha, Qatar, 2-1.
China now has a three-point lead over UAE in Asian Group B with the winner of the group earning a berth in the World Cup.
UAE has just one qualifying match remaining and the best it can do is earn 13 points. China already has 13 points and has two matches remaining, needing only a tie in one of them to clinch the group.
Even if China should lose its final two matches against Qatar and Uzbekistan, the Chinese would likely still win the group because it currently has a large goal differential advantage over UAE.
China is coached by Bora Milutinovic, who guided the United States team when the Americans hosted the World Cup in 1994.
A series of key qualifying matches are scheduled aruond the globe this weekend with World Cup berths on the line in Europe, South America and North America.
The United States faces a must-win situation when it hosts Jamaica in Boston on Sunday.