SAN FRANCISCO -- In a matter of a few years, Albert Pujols emerged as one of baseball's premier sluggers.
Barry Bonds did the same thing -- though many wonder whether his rapid ascent up the home run chart was fueled by performance-enhancing drugs.
Pujols hopes to avoid the same scrutiny Bonds faces each day.
The two sluggers matched up for the first time this season Monday night, when Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals came to San Francisco for a three-game series. Bonds, dogged by allegations of steroid use and a perjury investigation, entered the game needing one home run to pass Babe Ruth for second place on the career list with 715.
"I don't ever want to be in the life he's having," Pujols said in the clubhouse after taking some cuts in the cage. "Most of the things he's said in that show, I don't want to go through."
That show would be "Bonds on Bonds," the slugger's TV show.
Pujols might just have his own show soon. He went into Monday with a league-leading 22 clouts.
"I don't look at pace. I don't look at records. I care about what I can do every night to help my team win," he said. "If I don't get any hits and we win, it's just as good a feeling as hitting it out of the park."
Pujols reached 22 homers in only 44 games, the second-fewest in baseball history. Bonds did it in 43 games in 2001 on the way to 73 homers to break Mark McGwire's single-season record of 70.
"I love it," Bonds said Monday of Pujols' success so far. "I hope he shatters it."
Bonds., 41, connected for No. 714 on Saturday in Oakland, ending a nine-game homerless stretch that covered 29 at-bats.
Once he hits 715, only home run king Hank Aaron's 755 will be left for him to chase.
"He's doing something in baseball that's going to be tough to accomplish," said Pujols, who is batting .317 and also leads the majors with 53 RBIs, 56 runs scored and 118 total bases.
"If he can get to [Aaron's record], that's unbelievable. That's the guy everybody needs to look up to."
Pujols, who defended Bonds' achievements last week, is growing tired of the constant questions about steroids. He has already been tested three times this season.
"I think you guys are taking this steroid era over the hook," said Pujols, who began to turn testy. "You still need to see the ball and hit it. I get so angry with you guys wiping the floor with his name. The guy hasn't done anything and you're wiping the floor with his name."