© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/06/06 2:26 AM ET

Relaxed Bonds clubs homer 716

Slugger adds Florida's Moehler to list of pitchers taken deep

SAN FRANCISCO -- The media hordes are long gone and Barry Bonds is a happy man. His pursuit of Hank Aaron and the all-time home run lead began in earnest Monday night, eight days after Bonds passed Babe Ruth to roll into second on the all-time list.

One down and 39 more to go. Bonds at 716, Aaron at 755.

"A lot of people missed 716," said Giants manager Felipe Alou after the Giants pulverized the Marlins, 14-2, at AT&T Park. "I'm talking about the writers and the microphones. The people with faith are still here."

For Bonds, home is not only where the heart is, but it's also where he hits home runs. No. 715 was hit against the Rockies on May 28 during the fourth inning and soared into the bleachers just to the right of center, the day before the Giants embarked on a six-game road trip to Florida and New York. Bonds slugged No. 716 not far from that spot in the fifth inning Monday night over the center-field fence, the homers coming in consecutive home games.

Afterward, Bonds was lounging in a leather rocker just in front of his locker. Fully dressed in his street clothes, he was waiting for the media with a big smile on his face.

Bonds giggled and laughed, his eighth homer of the season (fifth at home) in the bag.

"I'm just having a good time, man, that's it," Bonds said. "I'm enjoying myself."

The two-run shot came in a six-run inning just after Lance Niekro had cleared the sacks with a bases-loaded triple. Bonds' latest shot was struck off the Florida Marlins' Brian Moehler after Bonds swung and missed at the first pitch during his third plate appearance of a game in which he went 1-for-3 with his 50th walk of the season.

It was his first homer off the right-hander, who became the 422nd pitcher to allow at least one to Bonds during the course of the lefty-swinger's 21-year career.

Even though the Marlins were already down 6-1 at the time, the traditional move would have been to walk Bonds intentionally with Niekro on third. But Marlins first-year manager Joe Girardi opted to pitch to Bonds and it soon was 8-1.

"We're not going to be able to contain him all the time," Girardi said. "We didn't want to give him a free pass. You've got to be aggressive, got to get ahead on the count. That said, he's one of the greatest hitters of all time."

The strategy could have worked. Bonds had gone only 16 plate appearances this time without hitting a homer. Overall, he's hit just three in his last 86 plate appearances, including No. 714 on May 20 at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum.

But not this time.

to the babe and beyond

"I got it up there," said Bonds, who whiffed badly at a low curve before parking a fastball that cut the middle of the plate. "It got up there in the wind."

Around his locker were the remnants of the press corps. Gone were the "Bonds on Bonds" and ESPN camera crews. Gone was the pack of national writers that had dwindled to about half a dozen anyway when it took Bonds more than four weeks to hit the three home runs that sent him past the Babe.

It was during that period -- 26 days between Nos. 712 and 715 -- that Bonds made himself scarce in the clubhouse, trying to duck the cameras and the microphones and the scribes.

He didn't look happy then. He certainly looks content now.

"A lot of it had to do with being monitored all day," Bonds said. "I get to come in now and put my feet up, watch TV, talk to the guys a little bit and get ready [for the games] the way I want to get ready without 25 people hovering around my locker. There was just too many people around here for me to prepare myself for the game."

They'll all be back, of course, as Bonds inches closer and closer to the big prize. Probably not this year, but certainly the next if he chooses to return in 2007.

Asked how many homers he needs to hit this year to have a shot at Aaron next season, Bonds demurred and wouldn't predict a number.

"Even if I didn't have another homer this year, I'd have a shot at it next year," said Bonds, who will be 42 years old on July 24.

That's 39 more homers, if anyone's counting.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.