Even here, a bases-empty home run by Barry Bonds is worth no more than a run and no match for a three-run rally. Even here, Bonds' one instant of solid contact can't offset 105 quality pitches by Tom Glavine.
And so it was that the 294th victory of Glavine's career -- a sidecar to the Mets' 4-1 victory -- took precedence over the 745th home run of Bonds' career, if not here, then anywhere baseball achievement is measured at the bottom line and objectivity is just a local call.
Glavine won the battle and war, withstanding Bonds' latest assault on Henry Aaron and all the disciples of 755 and moving to within six victories of his own personal objective, a 300 game. And all the while, the Mets were benefiting, assuring themselves of producing a winning record on this seven-game excursion.
Shortly after they had participated in a group haircut -- a demonstration of unity they said wasn't necessary -- the Mets all got together and beat up Matt Cain, the Giants' starting pitcher. The Mets scored three runs before the game was six batters old and essentially coasted from there, putting an end to Glavine's streak of winless starts and providing manager Willie Randolph the 200th victory of his 356-game career.
"It's the hair," Mets hitting coach Rick Down said. "It's the hair."
But the Mets' 20th victory was more a matter of early offense, effective starting pitching, almost spectacular relief and non-glitch defense. Their performance on Tuesday night was as comprehensively good as their loss on Monday night had been thoroughly lacking. And Glavine's presence has something to do with that.
"We knew we'd lost a couple he could have won," Randolph said, suggesting cause and effect.
Glavine won for the first time in four starts since April 17, pitching as well as he has in any of his eight starts. He pitched seven inning, allowing Bonds' home run in the fourth inning -- the fourth home run the Mets starter has surrendered to the Giants slugger during their extended runs as National League opponents -- and six benign hits. He walked one, Bonds, and struck out five, Bonds not among them.
"It's nice to get back on track," Glavine said, "even though I wasn't really off track. But when you're not winning, you start to think something's wrong. We won two of my games, and both times, I gave us a chance. But when you don't win, you start fighting the mental side of it."
Afforded a fat lead, Glavine can be as difficult a pitcher as there is to face. He seldom gives in, and when he has a lead of three runs, he concedes nothing. The Giants put runners on base in each of the first three innings. Bonds wasn't one of them. He grounded out in a nine-pitch at-bat, leading off the second.
"I threw him a little bit of everything but a slider," Glavine said.
The slider came -- and went -- in the fourth inning. The first pitch to Bonds became his 11th home run this season and the first he'd hit off Glavine since April 1997. Then, it was an inside-the-park home run, hit against the Braves at Candlestick Park.
The next time Bonds strutted to the plate, in the sixth, the Giants had a runner on first base with two outs. Bonds saw nothing worth a swing.
"He doesn't swing at bad pitches," Glavine said, impressed and annoyed at the same time. "He's made a career outside the strike zone."
Glavine saved his best stuff for the ensuing batter, Ray Durham, and struck him out looking. Glavine finished the seventh inning, too, the first time he has done so this season. Pedro Feliciano replaced Glavine and struck out Omar Vizquel and Bonds in the eighth. Mets closer Billy Wagner struck out two in a clean ninth inning and earned his seventh save this season and the 331st of his career. He ranks ninth all time.
The Mets' first-inning blitz had included doubles by Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran before Cain (1-3) retired a batter. After an out that advanced Beltran to third base, Moises Alou produced the third run with a sacrifice fly. They scored again in the second inning on a single by Paul Lo Duca, one of his three hits, and a triple by Reyes.
The Mets did little offensively thereafter; there was no need to.
"This is more typical of the way we play," Randolph said. "I like it when we win. I like it a little more when we win like this."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.