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SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Bonds played eight more innings Wednesday night, swung hard, pursed his lips and gathered his bats for another day.
He stands at 713 home runs, none since his 450-footer Sunday in Philadelphia, and so the all-time hierarchy remained the same: Aaron, Ruth, Bonds.
Bonds was hitless in four plate appearances and the Chicago Cubs defeated the San Francisco Giants, 8-1, before another near-sellout at AT&T Park.
After a first-inning walk, Bonds flied out, struck out and popped out against Cub right-hander Carlos Zambrano, who won for the first time in eight starts and ended the Cub losing streak at eight games.
Bonds' chase of Babe Ruth, and ultimately Hank Aaron, has acquired a slightly desperate feel. As dozens of national reporters leaned in, and fans shouted encouragement, Bonds' swings became less controlled and more violent.
"If he hit it, I wouldn't be the only one he hit a home run off," Zambrano said. "It's no big deal for me. It's a big deal for him."
Bonds played eight innings of a blowout loss, despite his stated intention to play in today's 12:35 p.m. game. He said he feels more of an obligation to stay in the lineup, despite his sore right knee and left elbow, because of the injury to No. 5 hitter Moises Alou.
Giant Manager Felipe Alou said his responsibility was to keep sending Bonds to left field, in part to preserve his eighth-inning at-bat, when fans again crowded onto the promenade atop the right-field wall and chanted his name.
"No fans left, so Barry couldn't leave either," Alou said. "You had 40,000 people waiting for that at-bat
. I wasn't going to be the one to take Barry out, at home especially. I think those people are here waiting for something big to happen. I'm not talking about records. I'm talking about respect for the fans."
Bonds has five home runs for the season, two in 32 at-bats since April 26. The Cubs have walked him twice over two games, and generally given him pitches around the strike zone. He struck out looking against Zambrano, who fooled him with a 96-mph sinker. And so the anticipation bled into another day, at least.
"Hopefully," Alou had said hours earlier, "Barry will hit that 715 and things will settle down. It hasn't been a great start, these first six weeks. It's not your [normal] day in and day out atmosphere."