The Giants extended Felipe Alou's contract through the 2006 season yesterday, ending any speculation about whether the manager would return for a fourth season.

The 70-year-old Alou and the Giants have a mutual option for 2007. Alou, who took over the team from Dusty Baker after the 2002 season, is one of only three managers in franchise history to win at least 90 games in his first two years.

But San Francisco has struggled at the start this year with slugger Barry Bonds sidelined all season by a knee injury.

"Usually it doesn't happen in a losing situation, but I appreciate the fact they have confidence in me," Alou said.

GM Brian Sabean said the timing of the extension was "appropriate."

"It shows we have direction," Sabean said.

Alou led the Giants to the NL West title in 2003 before finishing one game out of the wild-card race last season. Despite losing Bonds in spring training, San Francisco expected to compete for the division this season.

* THOME, F. ALOU TOSSED: Mild-mannered Phillies 1B Jim Thome was ejected from last night's game against the Giants for arguing a called third strike. Thome, who has been in a season-long slump, was upset after being called out on a pitch on the outside corner, leaving two runners on to end the third inning. He argued briefly with plate umpire Paul Schrieber.

Alou was ejected in the seventh inning. With one out and runners at second and third, Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins hit a shallow fly to left-center. Left fielder Pedro Feliz made a sliding attempt, but second-base umpire Andy Fletcher ruled the ball hit the ground.

The umpires conferred, but stuck with Fletcher's call, although replays showed Feliz made the catch.

"I don't want a break. I want the right call," Alou said.

* PROGRESS REPORT: Barry Bonds has stepped up his rehabilitation of his injured right knee, playing catch for the first time since spring training and walking up the ramps of SBC Park, the Giants slugger reported on his Web site.

-- From News Services

Felipe Alou, 70, had his contract extended through 2006, with a mutual option for 2007.