Giants’ Bonds Hits 752nd Homer vs. Cubs

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

CHICAGO – Barry Bonds hit his 752nd home run Thursday, ending his worst slump in six years with a single swing _ and Hank Aaron’s record is only three away.

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 _ and it was the first drive out of Wrigley Field to reach Sheffield Avenue all season. Bonds’ 18th homer this season was greeted with cheers and boos, and pulled the Giants within 4-1. It was San Francisco’s first hit off Lilly, who surrendered his third career homer to Bonds.

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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.

The homer also tied Carlton Fisk’s mark 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 three more homers not only to match Hammerin’ Hank’s record, but also to match Fisk’s 72 homers after turning 40.

Bonds, whose 43rd birthday is Tuesday, returned to the Giants’ starting lineup for the series finale after missed 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.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)