CHICAGO (AP) – Barry Bonds moved within two homers of Hank Aaron’s record Thursday, hitting Nos. 752 and 753 with two of his biggest swings this month and ending his worst slump in six years.
He was rested and ready, all right.
Bonds sent the first pitch from Cubs starter Ted Lilly high over the right-field fence leading off the second inning – the first drive out of Wrigley Field to reach Sheffield Avenue all season. Then he homered again in the seventh on a 3-2 pitch from Will Ohman, a three-run shot that stuck in the basket of the center-field wall. Ohman became the 443rd pitcher to give up a home run to Bonds, who has 19 homers on the year.
It was his 71st multihomer game, second behind Babe Ruth’s 72, and second this season. He went 3-for-3 and scored three runs in the Giants’ 9-8 loss.
Bonds’ first homer pulled the Giants within 4-1 and was San Francisco’s first hit off Lilly, who surrendered his third career homer to Bonds. The next homer got the Giants within one and gave Bonds six RBIs on the day, his most since driving in six runs Sept. 22 last year at Milwaukee. It was his seventh career game with at least six RBIs.
The second homer moved Bonds past Carlton Fisk for most longballs by a player in a year he turns at least 43. Fisk hit 18 at age 43 in 1990 and 18 more the following year at 44. Bonds needs two more homers not only to match Hammerin’ Hank’s record, but also to tie Fisk’s 72 homers after turning 40.
The fans both cheered and booed when his second-inning ball sailed out in the direction of a beer billboard reading “755 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL.” Dave Davison, a 39-year-old regular at Wrigley, retrieved the specially monogrammed ball in the middle of the street after it bounced off someone else’s arm.
And it wasn’t the first souvenir for Davison, who has retrieved more than 4,200 keepsake balls including one other from Bonds. He might be a willing seller this time, but had already turned down an offer for $5,000.
“I’d have to seriously consider anything over $25,000,” Davison said. “I’ll be happy to keep it.”
Tyler Olson, a 13-year-old from Freeport, Ill., came up with No. 753. The teen declined comment.
Bonds connected for the first time in 25 at-bats since his last homer July 3 at Cincinnati and also ended a seven-game hitless stretch. In the third, Lilly had no choice but to go right after him again – and Bonds looped a bases-loaded, two-run single into left-center field.
He was mired in a season-worst 0-for-21 slump, two off his career high set during his rookie season in 1986. The latest funk was his longest since a hitless stretch of the same length from April 5-12, 2001 – the year he broke Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record with 73.
Bonds, whose 43rd birthday is Tuesday, returned to the Giants’ starting lineup for the series finale after missing two of the first three games completely while nursing his sore legs. He pinch hit Tuesday night, the first time he hadn’t started three in a row since sitting five straight games from June 7-11, 2006.
“I’m good,” Bonds said while heading out to the field before the game.
The fans started booing Bonds lustily before he even took the field, hollering in displeasure when his name was announced with the starting lineups. They let him have it again when he emerged from the dugout and stepped into the on-deck circle in the first but didn’t bat.
He was jeered again when he took his spot in left field for the first time, with fans lining the fence to give their voices a better chance of being heard by the slugger.
Bonds was in an 0-for-17 slump before hitting his 746th homer against the Rockies on May 27.
Meanwhile, it appeared that the yearlong term of the federal grand jury in San Francisco investigating Bonds for perjury had been extended. Thursday marked the year anniversary of the grand jury’s creation and the strongest indication that it remained in session was the continued incarceration of Bonds’ personal trainer, Greg Anderson.
Anderson is being held in contempt of court for refusing to testify in the perjury probe. He will remain in prison until he talks or until the grand jury’s term expires. Grand jury terms last a year, but can twice be extended for three months.
Associated Press Writer Paul Elias in San Francisco and AP Freelance Writer Joe Esse in Chicago contributed to this story.