Barry Bonds’ quest to overtake Hank Aaron now heads to the home of the San Francisco Giants’ most bitter rival, adding another intriguing - and possibly historic - element to their long history with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Needing one homer to tie Aaron, Bonds and the Giants (45-58) meet the Dodgers (57-48) on Tuesday night in the start of a three-game series.
The seven-time NL MVP hasn’t homered since hitting the 754th of his career off Florida rookie Rick Vanden Hurk in a 12-10 win over the Marlins on Friday. After going hitless in three at-bats with a walk in a 4-3 win on Saturday, Bonds went 1-for-4 with an infield single in the eighth inning of an 8-5 loss to the Marlins on Sunday.
“I’m sure the fans will be pretty happy when we get him out. And be pretty mad if he gets a home run,” Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. “It’s going to add a little intensity to the series, for sure.”
San Francisco center fielder Dave Roberts said he hopes Los Angeles fans can appreciate they could be witnessing history.
“Seeing a milestone like that is bigger than the day-to-day, bigger than the Dodger-Giant rivalry. It’s about baseball history. So hopefully they can look past the rivalry issue and then get back to the game, I guess,” he told the Giants’ official Web site.
Eight of Bonds’ 20 homers this season have come on the road, but San Francisco has lost four straight away from AT&T Park when he goes deep. Bonds hit a solo homer on April 25, the 29th of his career at Dodger Stadium, in the Giants’ 6-4 win in the middle game of that series en route to their first sweep there since 2002.
“They like having a good time with Barry,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Dodgers fans. “It’s not going to affect him. He’s used to it. I don’t think the reception will be any different. I don’t know if they can take it up another notch. They’re probably the loudest of the road teams we play.”
Bonds will first face Brad Penny (13-1, 2.54 ERA), against whom he has gone 7-for-25 (.280) with three homers.
Penny will try to become the first Dodgers pitcher to start 14-1 since Phil Regan in 1966. Facing Colorado on Thursday, Penny won his third start in a row and eighth straight decision as the Dodgers posted a 5-4 win.
The right-hander gave up three runs and five hits in six innings, but was taken out of the game after beating out an infield single in the seventh.
“I was fine,” said Penny, who’s 6-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 home starts against NL opponents this season. “It was a little cramp.”
Penny’s only loss this year came on May 18, when he was tagged for a season-high eight runs in five innings of a 9-1 road defeat to the Angels.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Dodgers swept the Giants in a three-game set from June 13-15 in San Francisco. Since then, Los Angeles has gone 5-8, including a 9-6 loss to the Rockies on Sunday.
The Dodgers have dropped into a tie with Arizona for first in the NL West, but Los Angeles has played two fewer games than the Diamondbacks.
Noah Lowry (11-7, 3.40), meanwhile, will try to win his third straight start for the Giants and stay undefeated in Los Angeles. The left-hander allowed a run and seven hits over eight innings of a 2-1 win over Atlanta on Wednesday.
Lowry is 1-2 with a 4.19 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this year, but his only win against them came in Los Angeles on April 25 when he gave up four runs, seven hits and five walks in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-4 victory. Lowry is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts at Dodger Stadium.
San Francisco is last in the West, 11 games behind Los Angeles and Arizona.
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