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Bonds crushes No. 713 at Philly, one behind Babe

PHILADELPHIA -- Barry Bonds closed in on the Babe with a
Ruthian clout.

Now the San Francisco slugger is headed home with history on
deck.

Bonds hit his 713th homer Sunday night, moving within one of
tying Babe Ruth for second place on baseball's career list.

"It's overwhelming," Bonds said. "It's a little bit larger
than a single-season home run record. It's big. It's really, really
big."

The San Francisco slugger hit a mammoth shot in the sixth inning
off Jon Lieber, sending a 2-1 sinker off the facade of the
right-field upper deck during the Giants' 9-5 loss to the
Philadelphia Phillies.

"They tell me that's the way the Babe used to hit them,"
Giants manager Felipe Alou said.

Bonds' fifth homer of the season was estimated at 450 feet, one
of the longest ever at Philadelphia's hitter-friendly park. He
needs 42 to tie Hank Aaron for the major league record.

"He about tore that golden arches sign down," Phillies manager
Charlie Manuel said. "I'm glad he's leaving town. He's starting to
get hot now. It was just a matter of time, you can see he's getting
his swing down. He'll hit a few more."

As Bonds took his slow trot around the bases, some of the
Phillies fans, who had been needling Bonds with boos and derisive
chants throughout the series, stood up, cheered and clicked
photos.


He struck out swinging in his next at-bat against reliever Aaron
Fultz in the eighth, sending many fans toward the exits. Bonds came
out of the game before the bottom half.

The solo homer cut the Phillies' lead to 5-3, but they soon
broke it open and pushed their winning streak to eight games for
the first time in 15 years. The last time Philadelphia won eight in
a row was a 13-game run in 1991.

The Giants were headed back to San Francisco to begin a
homestand, but Bonds is not expected to play Monday night.

Bonds had been held in check since arriving here on Friday. He
went 3-for-9 in Philadelphia's three-game sweep with a pair of
singles, and had gone 11 at-bats since his previous home run
Tuesday against San Diego.

With his mother cheering from behind San Francisco's dugout,
Bonds pumped his fist as he finished circling the bases and
returned to the bench, perhaps trying to inspire a slumping Giants
team that has lost four straight, seven of eight and nine of 12.

"I'm just happy I didn't waste my mom's trip," said Bonds,
adding that a long conversation with her helped him get his head
"back on straight."

Bonds set the single-season mark with 73 homers in 2001. Ruth's
career total of 714 is also one of the most hallowed numbers in a
sport ruled by them. The Sultan of Swat hit his last long ball in
1935 and held the major league record until Aaron broke it on April
8, 1974.

"Babe Ruth is a great, great baseball player," Bonds said.
"He started all of this. He was in a league of his own."

Ruth's total is the record for left-handed hitters, and Bonds
has said he's more interested in owning that mark than catching
Aaron.

"I'm just going to keep on playing," Bonds said.

Commissioner Bud Selig has said baseball won't do anything
special to celebrate Bonds passing Ruth because it would only put
the Giants' star in second place.

Maybe it also has something to do with allegations of steroid
use by Bonds and baseball's probe into whether he took
performance-enhancing drugs.

The seven-time NL MVP has long denied ever knowingly taking
steroids, though the new book "Game of Shadows" reveals his
alleged extensive doping regimen the authors say began after the
1998 season when Bonds saw the attention Mark McGwire and Sammy
Sosa generated in their race for the single-season homers record.

Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, pleaded guilty to his
role in a steroid distribution ring, and a federal grand jury is
looking into whether Bonds perjured himself when he testified to
the separate grand jury that indicted Anderson and three others in
the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal.

After the game, Bonds declined to answer any questions about
steroids or the investigation.

Perhaps no pursuit of second place has ever garnered as much
attention as Bonds closing in on Ruth. The Phillies said they
received about 200 requests for media credentials this weekend,
about 125-150 more than for a typical game.

The Giants do plan a celebration when Bonds catches Ruth. The
team was set to take an overnight, cross-country flight and face
Houston ace Roy Oswalt at home Monday night to make up an April 12
rainout. But Alou said Bonds probably won't play against the
Astros.

"We'll have to see how I feel," Bonds said. "It's a long
flight."

As Bonds walked out to left field before the bottom of the
first, fans in the front row of the bleachers unfurled a huge sign
that read: "Ruth did it on hot dogs and beer. Aaron did it with
class. How did YOU do it?" In addition, one 'i' and the question
mark were dotted with asterisks.

The sign came out again in the third. Another sign in left field
read "LIAR."

"Dodger Stadium was worse than here," Bonds said. "This was
light. This was nothing."

Lieber (2-4) allowed four runs in seven innings. Pat Burrell hit
a two-run homer off Matt Morris (2-3) and drove in three runs for
the Phillies.

Game notes
The Phillies are off Monday before hosting the NL
East-leading New York Mets in a three-game series beginning Tuesday
night. ... It was Bonds' fourth career homer off Lieber.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.