Dodgers 6, Giants 4
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Barry Bonds looks as if he’s lost that picture-perfect swing.
With thousands of cameras flashing at every pitch that came his way, the slugger struggled again to find the impeccable hand-eye coordination that has defined his 22-year career.
Bonds went hitless and remained at 754 home runs and one from tying Hank Aaron’s record in the Giants’ 6-4 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night.
The Giants’ biggest rival sure has made Bonds look bad lately, giving Los Angeles fans a lot to cheer about.
Bonds went 0-for-3 with an intentional walk and is hitless in 19 at-bats against the Dodgers since a single on April 26.
“Let’s not talk about that too much,” the Dodgers’ Russell Martin said. “We don’t want to jinx ourselves right now, but we’re pitching him tough, and the pressure’s on his side. He’s the one who has to break the record.”
Bonds could be seen in the dugout showing his batboy son, 17-year-old Nikolai, how his swing is out of whack. Bonds’ .186 average in July was his lowest in a month since April 1991 when he hit .177, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That includes months in which he had at least 15 at-bats.
“Well, the man’s 43,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “To expect him to do what he did in his prime is asking a lot. … I think without question he’s not seeing as many strikes, and they’re being very careful. He’s not getting a lot to hit right now.”
Bonds flied out on a full count leading off the second, then grounded out on the first pitch he saw with one out and the bases empty in the fourth. In the sixth, Juan Pierre robbed him of a hit with a pretty running catch in which he laid out to make the play in center.
Bonds was intentionally walked in the eighth by winner Jonathan Broxton (4-2) after the reliever fell behind 2-0 in the count. Fans booed the pitcher and headed for the exits before Fred Lewis had even made it to first to pinch run for Bonds.
“It’s great,” Giants rookie starter Tim Lincecum said of the atmosphere. “It’s going to be nice when he does break it. It’s just the most prestigious record to hold. Everybody wants to see it no matter if they’re rooting for him or not.”
Last month coming out of the All-Star break, Bonds had back-to-back 0-for-5 games against Los Angeles as the Dodgers swept three games and extended their winning streak to 11 straight in San Francisco. After the series finale, the seven-time NL MVP called himself an “embarrassment,” later flipping a laundry cart to the ground. He flew to Chicago mired in an 0-for-20 funk—one of his worst slumps ever.
On Wednesday, Bonds got ridiculed right along with the Laker Girls.
He shouldn’t feel so bad. At Dodger Stadium, this is just what they do—and he’s used to it.
Still, flashbulbs lit up the hazy Southern California sky for the second straight night whenever he stepped into the batter’s box.
“I don’t see them,” Bond said before the game when asked about it.
Commissioner Bud Selig attended the game, but was scheduled to return home to Milwaukee on Thursday before meeting up with the Giants in San Diego on Friday night. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson will represent the commissioner’s office in Selig’s place Thursday. Giants executive vice president Larry Baer also joined the Bonds’ road show Wednesday.
Brett Tomko, a former Giant, is scheduled to pitch the series finale for the Dodgers on Thursday night. The right-hander has given up one homer to Bonds in 22 at-bats with 13 walks.
Bochy said that Bonds would be in the lineup each day as long as he felt good enough to play. Bonds has been taken out early in two straight contests.
“He feels great—most likely,” Bochy said of Bonds playing Thursday.
In July 2006, Garciaparra also hit a tiebreaking, two-run shot in the eighth at Dodger Stadium to trump Bonds’ 720th career home run.
“I don’t know if I’m trying to steal anybody’s thunder,” Garciaparra said. “I’m just trying to win ballgames, and today was a good win. We needed that win.”
Bonds was booed lustily for the second straight night when introduced before the game. He walked to the top of the dugout steps in the first as fans hollered at him from the upper decks, then more boos moments later when he stepped into the on-deck circle. Also any time he touched the ball in left field.
Before the game, Bonds pumped his fist in the air to greet a fan behind the Giants’ dugout. After he caught Gonzalez’s foul fly ball to end the first, he made a quick behind-the-back pass and threw the ball into the seats along the left-field line.
“I’ve always liked that,” Bonds said of interacting with the hostile Dodger crowd. “I’m not here to feed the frenzy on what other people think.”
Since moving with one of Aaron’s record on Friday night in San Francisco, Bonds is 1-for-12 with eight walks. He is batting .118 (4-for-34) against the Dodgers this year.
New Giants outfielder Rajai Davis, a rookie acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh on Tuesday that sent righty starter Matt Morris to the Pirates, got to start in center field alongside Bonds on his first day.
“That’s really an honor to be on the same field as a man of his status,” Davis said. “I definitely wasn’t picturing this.”
Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth for his 27th save in 30 chances. … Omar Vizquel hit a pair of RBI doubles for the Giants and pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen singled in a run in the seventh. … Pierre tripled in a run and had an RBI groundout for the Dodgers…. Davis went 1-for-4 in his San Francisco debut. … Martin stole his 18th base to match a franchise record for stolen bases by a catcher in a season. Con Daily had 18 in 1892. … RHP Scott Proctor made his Dodgers debut in the seventh, a day after being traded by the Yankees. … The Giants’ Rich Aurilia (right hamstring) and Ray Durham (back) both were injured and listed as day to day.