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06/06/06 2:26 AM ET
Relaxed Bonds clubs homer 716
Slugger adds Florida's Moehler to list of pitchers taken deep
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
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.
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.