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Bonds wins 3rd straight; Pujols distant 2nd

NEW YORK -- Barry Bonds won his record sixth National League
MVP award Tuesday, becoming the first player to get the honor in
three consecutive years.

The San Francisco Giants outfielder, the only player to win an MVP
award more than three times, received 28 of 32 first-place votes
and 426 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of
America.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Albert Pujols was second with three
first-place votes and 303 points. Atlanta Braves outfielder Gary Sheffield
got the other first-place vote and was third with 247 points.

At 39 years, 3½ months, Bonds is the second-oldest MVP, trailing
Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell, who was a few months older when he
tied for the award in 1979.

Bonds had a difficult season in which his father, Bobby, died in
August. Still, Bonds hit .341 with 45 homers and 90 RBI, leading
the major leagues in slugging percentage (.749), on-base percentage
(.529) and walks.

"This award is more special to me than any award I've ever
received because it's dedicated to my father," Bonds said during a
conference call. "He has been my hitting coach my entire life,
ever since I was a little kid. I miss him dearly. It's a really
emotional time for me right now."

Among the four major North American professional sports, only
the NHL's Wayne Gretzky has more MVP awards, with nine. The NBA's
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also won six MVPs.

"To be able to say you've won this award six times, there's no
words for it," Bonds said.

Pujols hit a major league-high .359 with 43 homers and 124 RBI
and led the major leagues with 137 runs. He became just the 10th
player to finish second in consecutive MVP votes, the first since
the Dodgers' Mike Piazza in 1996 and 1997.

San Francisco players have won the award four straight times,
with Jeff Kent finishing first in the 2000 vote. The Yankees
accomplished that feat twice with Yogi Berra (1954-55) and Mickey
Mantle (1956-57), and Roger Maris (1960-61), Mantle (1962) and
Elston Howard (1963).

Bonds gets a $500,000 bonus for winning the award. Sheffield,
who became a free agent after the season, earned $75,000 for
finishing third. Florida's Juan Pierre gets $200,000 for finishing
10th.

Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, Don Ketchum of The Arizona
Republic and Bill Zack of Morris News Service, who covers the
Braves, voted Pujols first. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post
Dispatch voted Sheffield first.

During the conference call, Bonds defended his decision to
withdraw from the Major League Baseball Players Association's
licensing program starting next season. He wants to control his
likeness as he approaches Hank Aaron's career home-run record of
755. Bonds is fourth with 658, also trailing Babe Ruth (714) and
Willie Mays (660), Bonds' godfather.

"I felt I've really been misrepresented throughout my career as
a bad guy, bad person," Bonds said. "This gives the licensees an
opportunity to really know me."

By going on his own, Bonds said he will be able to give back to
the community and fund projects.

Bonds declined to comment on Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, a
nutritional supplements lab whose founder is a target of a grand
jury investigation. On Monday, an attorney for Bonds' personal
trainer, Greg Anderson, confirmed his client also is a target of
the probe.

Bonds and other athletes have been subpoenaed to testify by a
federal grand jury.

He welcomed the start of steroid testing with penalties in
baseball next season. The testing was triggered when more than 5
percent of tests this year came back positive in an anonymous
survey.

"I am glad there is going to be testing," he said. "I am glad
that, hopefully, hopefully, it will diminish a lot of everyone's
speculation, and everyone can just move on."