Bonds crushes No. 713 at Philly, one behind Babe
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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.
• 450 feet long
• 423rd solo HR (Four of his five HR have been solo this year)
• 120th HR in the month of May
• 102nd HR on a Sunday
• 62nd career HR vs. Phillies
• 29th career HR in the city of Philadelphia
• Fourth career HR vs Jon Lieber
• Second career HR at Citizens Bank Park
-- ESPN Research
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."
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.
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