San Francisco (45-43) at Los Angeles (45-42)

  • Game info: 4:10 pm EDT Sun Jul 9, 2006
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Barry Bonds closes out a tumultuous first half of his 21st season in the majors as the San Francisco Giants finish a four-game series Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

While Bonds made history when he hit homer No. 715 on May 28 to pass Babe Ruth for second on the all-time home run list, his season has been marred by speculation regarding his alleged steroid use that included a grand jury investigation and aches and pains that have made him less of a threat at the plate than in past years.

Bonds hit home run No. 720 on Friday night before leaving the game with a sore knee. He said he caught a spike in the dirt while taking his first swing. Bonds, who is 35 homers behind Hank Aaron, is batting .249 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs and has missed 20 games this season with knee problems.

“It could have been better,” Bonds said about the first half of the season. “Oh yeah, it will be much better in the second half.”

Bonds hopes to be in the lineup for this game, and likely without spikes.

“I don’t ever wear spikes, I wore spikes yesterday, I caught my spike in the dirt,” Bonds said. “The dirt was softer. It’s not bad, it’s just a little bit sore. I’m just giving it a day to calm down. I can hit. All my friends are coming out today and I’m not playing.”

Without Bonds on Saturday, Giants manager Felipe Alou put Ray Durham in the cleanup position for just the third time this season. The second baseman hit a three-run homer, was 2-for-3 and scored four runs in San Francisco’s 11-7 win over the Dodgers (45-41).

“It just worked for me today,” said Durham, who also walked twice and stole a base. “That’s B’s job. I commend Felipe for having the trust in me to put me in that position, to drive in runs.”

Los Angeles starter Derek Lowe lasted a season-low 4 2-3 innings, giving up seven runs while walking three. He also gave up a solo home run to Giants pitcher Noah Lowry.

“Obviously, I’m in a little bit of a funk,” Lowe said. “I mean, four runs before you get an out. I think clearly, there’s something’s going on that we will figure out before the next start, as far as what’s going on mechanically to cause the inconsistency. I let the team down.”

The Giants (45-43) will hand the ball to Jason Schmidt (6-4, 2.69 ERA) on Sunday, hoping the staff ace can get his first win since June 6. He is 0-2 in his last five starts mostly due to a lack of run support.

The right-hander has the lowest run support of any pitcher in the rotation at 3.2 runs per game. In his start Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies, Schmidt gave up three runs in a 6-1 loss, pitching only five innings due to a rain delay.

“There is always a pitcher like that every year who doesn’t get run support,” Alou said.

Schmidt is 11-8 with a 3.77 ERA in 30 appearances against Dodgers. He is 0-1 in two starts against them this season despite limiting them to four runs in the two games.

The Dodgers will counter with Aaron Sele (5-2, 3.05). Sele allowed two runs while striking out five in six innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks last Tuesday in a 10-4 win.

The right-hander is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in three starts against the Giants. He pitched against them on May 13, giving up two runs over seven innings, but did not have a decision as San Francisco rallied for a 6-5 win.

Bonds is 0-for-5 with three strikeouts against Sele.

The Giants and Dodgers both trail the San Diego Padres in the NL West. The Dodgers trail by two games, while the Giants are one-half game further back.

“They key is to get back out of a hole and we’re not there yet,” Alou said.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Schmidt LAD vs. A. Sele NYM
11-9 Record 8-6
3.59 ERA 4.53
180 K 57
80 BB 30
1.26 WHIP 1.45