Bonds within two of the Hammer

Friday, July 20, 2007
San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds and Cubs catcher Koyie Hill watched Bonds' three-run home run during the seventh inning Thursday in Chicago. (M. Spencer Green ~ Associated Press)

Bonds moves on to the city where Aaron began and ended his career.

CHICAGO -- Barry Bonds' slump is over and Hank Aaron's record can't be far behind.

Bonds moved within two home runs of Aaron's record Thursday, sending No. 752 over the right-field bleachers on the first pitch he saw, and No. 753 into the basket of the center-field wall.

He was ready, all right, breaking out of his worst slump in six years.

The San Francisco slugger returned to the starting lineup for the first time in four games after resting his sore legs, though his two homers weren't enough for the Giants in a 9-8 loss to the surging Chicago Cubs.

"Yeah, it's real," said Bonds, who has hesitated to discuss his quest for the record.

Bonds didn't just clear the fences in the second inning when he crushed the specially monogrammed ball for his 18th homer of the season and first in 25 at-bats, he cleared the bleachers altogether.

Today, the chase moves to Miller Park in Milwaukee, the city where Aaron both started and ended his career. It's also the home of commissioner Bud Selig, who hasn't said whether he'll be in the seats as Bonds attempts to make history.

Bonds said going to Aaron's former city would not affect him because he's more concerned with getting the Giants on track.

"It doesn't mean anything more than anywhere else," Bonds said. "I'm feeling great. Maybe I'm going to take three more days off and come back."

Bonds sent the first pitch from Cubs starter Ted Lilly high over the right-field fence leading off the second -- and it was the first drive out of Wrigley Field to reach Sheffield Avenue all season. Then he homered again in the seventh, a three-run shot off Will Ohman.

Ohman became the 443rd pitcher to give up a home run to Bonds, who has 19 homers this season. It was Bonds' 71st multihomer game, second all-time behind Babe Ruth's 72, and second this season.

Bonds' solo shot pulled the Giants within 4-1 and it was San Francisco's first hit off Lilly (10-4), who surrendered his third career homer to Bonds and later a two-run single but still won his sixth straight decision to match a career high.

Bonds' second homer got the Giants within 9-8 and gave him six RBIs on the day, his most since driving in six runs Sept. 22 at Milwaukee. It was his seventh career game with at least six RBIs.

The second one also 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.

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