Bonds within two of Babe, slugs No. 712

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Padres were in a perfect situation to

challenge Barry Bonds: a three-run lead in the eighth inning with

nobody on base.

Giants fans got what they came to see, and now Bonds is two home

runs from tying the Babe.

Bonds hit his 712th homer in San Francisco's 5-3 loss to San

Diego on Tuesday, moving him even closer to matching Babe Ruth's

total for second place on the career list.

Bonds sent a full-count, 96 mph fastball from Scott Linebrink

over the center-field wall for a solo shot that traveled an

estimated 440 feet. Linebrink became the 419th pitcher to surrender

a home run to Bonds.

"The fast ones I'm able to see. The slower ones I'm missing,"

Bonds said, smiling. "He challenged me one time too many."

The seven-time NL MVP, as popular as ever in his home ballpark

despite the steroids accusations surrounding him, came home to

chants of "Barry! Barry!" and a loud standing ovation -- and he

gave the fans a wave before disappearing into the dugout. His home

run total flashed on the scoreboard between innings.

Now, the 41-year-old Bonds will resume his chase for No. 714 on

the road. The Giants open a two-game series Wednesday night in

Milwaukee -- where home run king Hank Aaron played much of his

career -- and then start a three-game, weekend set in Philadelphia.

Aaron holds the career record with 755 homers.

"I want him to do it as soon as possible -- 715 as soon as

possible," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "Do the other one

here, 756 at home. You can't wait. You never know. ... Barry's not

31 years old. Go ahead and do it. If they give him a pitch to hit,

I'm pretty sure he'll hit it."

Bonds said he hadn't thought about the possibility of tying or

passing Ruth in the city where Aaron once ruled.

"I don't know," he said. "I haven't done it yet. I can't

answer that question. ... I don't like talking about it at all,

because there's nothing really to talk about at this moment."

After this trip, the Giants return home, where Bonds will first

play Houston on Monday in a makeup game and then face former

manager Dusty Baker and the Chicago Cubs.

Bonds' big hit overshadowed Mike Cameron's first home run with

the Padres, a two-run shot in the first that helped Woody Williams

end a three-start winless stretch.

"It's how you want to face him," Padres manager Bruce Bochy

said of Bonds. "It looked like he didn't have a chance. He fought

off some tough pitches and then crushed one to center. You can't

forget how awesome he is just because his knee is bothering him."

Bonds was 0-for-2 with a walk before hitting his 82nd home run

against the Padres, his top victim.

With the Padres up three runs and nobody on base, Linebrink

didn't have to think about whether to pitch around Bonds.

"You face him enough times, he's going to get everybody,"

Linebrink said. "He's one of the greatest hitters in the game. You

always have a little more adrenaline when it's Bonds. He's so

deadly. He's got such a quick bat. The only chance you've got is to

pitch him away."

With one out in the sixth and nobody on, Williams (2-1) walked

Bonds on six pitches. It was Williams' lone walk in 5 2/3 strong

innings in which he struck out three and allowed two runs and five


Trevor Hoffman recorded the final three outs for his fourth save

in as many chances.

Bonds played only six innings in Monday's 10-4 loss, a move to

keep him fresh to play in a day game following a night game, which

has not been his typical practice in recent years.

"He gave him a 96 mph fastball," Alou said. "In his last at-bat, it was a 41-year-old playing a day game after a night game. That was an awesome pitch. It was not easy. But Barry knows how to swing like that on a fastball."

Now, Bonds has no plans to sit out despite his tender right knee

that underwent three operations last year and limited him to 14

games in 2005.

"I'm playing. Moises [Alou] has been out there every single

day," Bonds said. "His legs are a little bit sore. I'm playing.

I've got to get through it, regardless."

Dave Roberts added an RBI triple and Brian Giles and Mark

Bellhorn each doubled in a run for San Diego, which won three in a

row for the first time all season.

Pedro Feliz hit his third homer of the year in the Giants' third

straight loss.

Steve Finley hit his fifth triple of 2006. The 41-year-old

Finley is the active leader in triples with 117 and he has his most

this season since he hit 10 for Arizona in 2003.

Matt Morris (2-2) struggled early but settled down. He won his

first two starts of the year but hasn't had a victory in four

since, getting two straight no-decisions before Tuesday's loss.

Morris took a knee to the right calf in the seventh covering

first base on Giles' fielder's choice but stayed in the game and

recorded his 1,000th career strikeout of Bellhorn to end the inning

-- his fifth of the game.

Roberts got aboard on second baseman Kevin Frandsen's throwing

error to start the game, then Cameron sent the first pitch from

Morris into the left-field seats for his first homer with the

Padres. He missed the team's first 17 games with a strained muscle

in his left side.Game notes
Williams singled in the fourth for his first hit of the

year. ... Moises Alou, the RF who hurt his left hip on a

ninth-inning double play Sunday against the Diamondbacks, didn't

start for the second straight game. ... San Francisco 1B Lance

Niekro returned to the lineup after missing two games with a head