Bonds and the San Francisco Giants look to salvage a split of a four-game series with Piniella’s surging Cubs on Thursday at Wrigley Field.
The San Francisco slugger, who is four homers shy of tying Hank Aaron’s all-time record, is expected to start Thursday after being out of the lineup for the first three games of the series. Bonds sat out Wednesday’s 12-1 loss after flying out as a pinch-hitter Tuesday and sitting out Monday’s game for the Giants (39-53).
Piniella told the Cubs’ official Web site that Bonds’ return is a good thing — at least for fans.
“He’s exciting. He’s like the action hero and the villain at the same time. That’s what people come to the ballpark to see. They want to see Barry swing the bat,” Piniella said.
It may also help the Cubs (49-44), who have won 17 of 22 games and own baseball’s best record since June 1 at 27-15. Bonds is mired in an 0-for-21 slump, his worst since a hitless stretch of the same length from April 5-12, 2001—the year he broke Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record with 73.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the 42-year-old left fielder will be back despite his sore legs.
“He’s fine. He’s feeling better,” Bochy said. “I think he’s all set to go (Thursday) barring all setbacks.”
Bochy said before the game that Bonds would be available as a pinch-hitter, but there wasn’t a need since the Cubs posted a blowout. Chicago took a 9-0 lead in the fifth following a career-high five RBIs by Koyie Hill and five shutout innings by starter Carlos Zambrano.
Chicago won despite playing without Aramis Ramirez, who had the day off, and without Derrek Lee, who dropped his appeal and began to serve a five-game suspension for his role in a fight with the San Diego Padres on June 16.
“We didn’t bring any game today,” Bochy said.
San Francisco has lost six of seven, and things may get tougher against Ted Lilly (9-4, 3.51 ERA), who will start Thursday for Chicago.
Lilly has won his last four starts and five straight decisions. He has given up just one run in each of his last three starts, including Saturday’s 9-3 win against the Houston Astros. Lilly allowed four hits in eight innings while striking out seven.
“I’m trying to limit the mistakes and keep the ball from out over the plate,” he said. “I’ve tried not to think about strikeouts.”
The veteran hasn’t won five straight starts since a six-game streak from Aug. 25-Sept. 21, 2003.
Lilly has not faced the Giants since 2003 while with Oakland, and is 1-1 with a 6.27 ERA in three starts against them. Bonds has two homers in eight at-bats against him.
Matt Morris (7-5, 3.86) will start for San Francisco. He’s 0-2 with an 8.13 ERA in his last five starts after he allowed six runs and eight hits on Saturday in an 8-7, 12-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Morris is 11-7 with a 4.30 ERA in 25 starts and three relief appearances against the Cubs, but he’s lost his last four starts against them while posting a 7.48 ERA.
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