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07/04/07 12:08 AM ET
In Griffey's house, Bonds clubs No. 751
Slugger now four behind Aaron's all-time record
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- On a night when Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. came into the game having combined for 1,335 homers, the Giants slugger continued his inexorable march toward Hank Aaron's all-time Major League Baseball home run record. Bonds struck early Tuesday, hitting No. 751 on an 0-2 pitch off the Reds' Aaron Harang with Ray Durham on first and two out in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. It gave the Giants a short-lived 2-0 lead on the way to a 7-3 loss and left a baffled Bonds four away from tying Aaron's 755 and five away from breaking it. Asked if he could start to "feel" 755 looming in the immediate distance, Bonds said: "I can feel 751 right now, but I can't feel 755 just yet." So how about 751? "It feels pretty good," he added. Still, the Giants' struggles have begun to overshadow the chase of Aaron, which is coming down to the wire with only five games to play until Monday's All-Star break. Bonds hasn't hit a homer in a game the Giants have won since June 11 against the Blue Jays in San Francisco. And that was No. 747. "It's hurting right now," said Bonds, referring to a Giants squad that is 7-15 in its last 22 games. "We know we're a better team and can play better. It's just unlucky breaks right now. Things aren't going our way." They are, though, for Bonds, who has 17 homers on the season, is batting .305 and is leading the Major Leagues in walks (86), intentional walks (30) and on-base percentage (.517). Plus, his .614 slugging percentage is tops in the National League. It was his second homer in the past four games, his previous one coming Friday night against Diamondbacks right-hander Livan Hernandez. Bonds was asked if he was playing on all cylinders right now. "Yeah, pretty good for an old guy, huh?" said Bonds, who will turn 43 on July 24. Griffey came into the game with 585 homers and is one away from tying Frank Robinson for sixth on the all-time list. With just 15 more, he'll become the sixth player in history to reach the 600 plateau, following Sammy Sosa of the Rangers, who passed the mark just last month. Griffey has already hit 22 this year. Bonds and Griffey were both voted by the fans as starters in the outfield on the National League squad that will play against its American League counterparts in the All-Star Game next Tuesday evening at AT&T Park. It came as no surprise to Bonds. "We're pretty good players," Bonds said about himself and Griffey. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the now 1,336 homers between the two marked the most career homers by a pair in a single game since July 17, 1973, when the Mets with Willie Mays played Aaron's Braves in Atlanta. Mays entered that game with 658 homers and Hank Aaron had 697 for a total of 1,355. Like Bonds on Tuesday, Aaron homered, raising that total to 1,356. Bonds' 409-foot blast into the right-center-field bleachers was the second of his career against Harang, coming in consecutive at-bats against the right-hander. He hit the other one in the eighth inning here on Sept. 4, 2006, on a play in which Griffey scaled the wall trying to make the catch, wrenched his big toe and wound up missing 22 of the Reds' final 24 games. This time, Griffey didn't move. Harang had opened the game by striking out Dave Roberts and Randy Winn swinging before walking Durham. Bonds came to the plate to the usual cacophony of road boos having hit only one homer away from home since April 28 (June 17 at Boston). "Obviously he's done something over his career to make people boo him," Griffey said. "They just don't boo somebody who stinks." Bonds fouled off Harang's first offering into the stands on the left side, swung and missed wildly at the second, and then drilled the third pitch -- a fastball -- toward the Ohio River. It was his 59th homer against the Reds and third at the latest Cincinnati ballpark, which opened in 2003. Previously he had hit 31 homers at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field. The eight-foot fence in front of the right-center-field bleachers at the 370-foot mark seemed pretty inviting in comparison to the 19-foot-high red-brick wall and the 422-foot power alley in right-center at AT&T Park. Bonds said he wasn't sure that his shot Tuesday night would've had the depth to make it out at home, where he's hit 155 homers since the China Basis yard opened in 2000. "I don't know," he said. "It probably would've hit the wall or something. It was a low liner. Our ballpark is pretty big. It just depends where it goes. This park is a lot easier than ours."
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.