Bonds will try to match—or break—the all-time home run record against his old nemesis when the Giants and Padres open a three-game series Friday night at Petco Park.
Bonds enters this series with 754 homers, one shy of Hank Aaron’s all-time record, after going 1-for-2 with a single and two walks in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. His last homer came last Friday against Florida, and it’s his only one since connecting twice at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on July 19.
The seven-time NL MVP is hitting just .164 (9-for-55) since July 6. Bonds will likely play the first two games of this series and sit Sunday afternoon before the Giants (47-59) return to San Francisco, where he has hit most of the notable homers in his career.
“I talked to him and he says he feels fine, he feels great,” said former Padres and current Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who lifted Bonds for a pinch runner after a seventh-inning intentional walk. “What helps is we’re getting leads and getting him out of there early.”
The 43-year-old slugger has hit 86 homers against San Diego (57-50) - his most against any team. His 42 homers in San Diego are his most in any road city, but just three have come in his 24 games at Petco, a pitcher’s park that Padres general manager Kevin Towers has called “Bonds-proof.”
“That place, they just need to move all of that in,” Bonds said last month.
Bonds has 34 hits and 23 walks against Maddux (7-8, 4.20 ERA) in 127 at-bats - his most against any pitcher. He has hit eight career homers against Maddux, tied for his most against any of the 444 pitchers he has connected against, but he hasn’t hit one off the 41-year-old right-hander since May 1, 1998.
“He’s good,” Maddux said. “He’s always been the best player, even when he was in Pittsburgh. I know he taught me to beat lineups and not hitters. You do what you can to keep him in the park.”
Maddux is 0-4 with a 5.57 ERA in six starts since June 27, when he won 4-2 in San Francisco with Bonds not playing. The four-time Cy Young Award winner has allowed just one run in 13 innings while winning both of his starts against the Giants this season and is 28-14 with a 2.87 ERA in 48 career starts against them.
He has won his last four starts and five decisions against San Francisco since a May 9, 2003 loss while he was still with Atlanta.
“Well, absolutely,” said Maddux when asked if he would mind giving up a historic homer to Bonds. “All the home runs I’ve given up have bothered me. You do what you can to pitch around him if you have to, and try to win.”
Maddux, who is trying for his 341st career win, gave up three runs in six innings of a 3-1 loss in Houston on Saturday.
The Padres won for just the fourth time in 13 games on Thursday, avoiding a three-game sweep with an 11-0 win over Arizona. Morgan Ensberg, acquired Tuesday after being designated for assignment by Houston, hit two two-run homers in his first start with his new team.
San Diego, which moved within 1 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Arizona, ranks near the bottom of the majors with 460 runs, but exploded on Wally Joyner’s first day as hitting coach. Joyner replaced Merv Rettenmund, who was fired on Tuesday.
The last-place Giants, meanwhile, have won six of their last eight games and took two of three at Dodger Stadium coming into this series.
In Friday’s opener, they will hand the ball to Matt Cain (3-12, 4.02), who gave up three runs in seven innings and avoided losing his fourth straight start on Saturday as the Giants beat Florida 4-3. Cain went 1-3 with a 6.58 ERA in five July starts.
He is 3-2 with a 2.01 ERA in eight career starts against the Padres—his lowest ERA against any team he has faced more than once.
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