713 and holding


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Barry Bonds has displayed impeccable timing at the plate throughout his decorated career.

Now, everything is lined up just right for him to tie Babe Ruth: The rival Los Angeles Dodgers are coming to town the same day the Giants will throw a belated 75th birthday bash for his godfather, Willie Mays.

Bonds remained one home run shy of Ruth’s 714, going 0-for-3 with two walks that keyed a pair of rallies in San Francisco’s 9-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

The slugger will resume his pursuit Friday night against the Dodgers and Brad Penny, who has allowed three homers to Bonds.

Bonds’ homerless stretch reached three games and the banners to honor him were still rolled up and waiting to be unfurled from two light towers in center field on each side of the main scoreboard.

But Bonds still contributed plenty by getting on base. He was walked in a five-run first inning and again ahead of Steve Finley’s bases-loaded triple in the fourth as the Giants gave Jamey Wright (3-3) more than enough support.

San Francisco scored six runs following Bonds’ walks.

Pedro Feliz, Mike Matheny and Kevin Frandsen also drove in runs in the first inning to stake Wright to a big lead, and the right-hander allowed two runs in 7 1-3 innings to snap a three-start losing streak. He left to a loud standing ovation.

Bonds’ former skipper Dusty Baker – both arrived in San Francisco in 1993 and spent 10 seasons together -didn’t get to witness the milestone homer this time. Baker was there as Hank Aaron’s Atlanta Braves teammate when Aaron tied and passed Ruth in April 1974.

On Friday, the Giants will hold a pregame celebration for Mays six days after he turned 75. It’s also the 71st birthday of San Francisco manager Felipe Alou.

“Barry knows he’s going to do that, he knows it’s going to happen,” Alou said.

Bonds gave everybody a scare in the sixth. He chased Todd Walker’s foul ball to left and couldn’t stop on his surgically repaired right knee, falling face first over the short padded wall down the left-field line.

He stayed in the game but failed to catch Freddie Bynum’s RBI triple that scored Chicago’s first run in the eighth.

Bonds drew his 15th intentional walk of the season in the first following Lance Niekro’s two-run double, then grounded out to first on the second pitch of his second-inning at-bat.

In the fourth, he came to the plate with a runner on second and two outs, often a situation calling for an intentional walk. The Cubs decided against it, and the fans cheered when catcher Michael Barrett dropped into his crouch. But after throwing a first-pitch curveball for a called strike, Cubs starter Sean Marshall didn’t come anywhere close to the plate and issued Bonds’ second walk of the game.

Two batters later, Finley hit a bases-loaded triple for his seventh of the year.

Bonds lined out to right in the sixth and flied out to center in the eighth with the fans on their feet and chanting “Barry! Barry!” Jason Ellison replaced him in left field for the ninth.

Bonds said earlier this week he planned to play in every game through the homestand, which would include Saturday’s day game after a night game – not typically his practice in previous seasons.

The 41-year-old Bonds hit 713 with a 450-foot shot Sunday night at Philadelphia.

Frandsen, who is likely to be sent down to the minors Friday when the Giants activate second baseman Ray Durham from the disabled list, also singled in a run in the third.

Marshall (2-1) won his first two decisions of the season but is winless in his past three outings after lasting only 3 2-3 innings. The lefty allowed nine runs and nine hits, walked five and struck out two – and the Cubs had the bullpen up before he even retired a batter. San Francisco’s first eight batters reached.

Neifi Perez’s groundout drove in another run for the Cubs, who ended their season-worst eight-game losing streak with Wednesday night’s 8-1 win but still only managed one victory on their nine-game road trip out West.

Notes: Finley has seven triples, his most since hitting 10 for Arizona in 2003. … The last time the Cubs won only one game on a nine-game road trip was May 1981.

AP-ES-05-11-06 1814EDT